Lions and LCIF. . . Wish Comes True at White Stag for Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground

New Equipment Designed to Promote Interactive Play for Children of All Abilities

JULY 16, 2012, KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Tennessee State Parks joined the Friends of Warriors’ Path State Park, the Kingsport Lions Club and members of the community for a tour and ceremony dedicating interactive new playground equipment at the park’s Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground.

The OmniSpin® Spinner equipment was donated by the Kingsport Lions Club, through a grant from the Lions Clubs International Foundation.  Others providing funding or in-kind contributions to cover any shortfalls included Landscape Structures, James A. Street Associates, Clean Play 123, Redi-Mix USA, Friends of Warriors’ Path State Park, LaQuinta Inn, and local Lions Club members.

“Anyone familiar with C.S. Lewis’ fantasy story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe remembers that if you catch the White Stag, your wish will be granted,” said Mary Steadman with the Friends of Warriors’ Path.  “So it was for the Kingsport Lions Club and Friends of Warriors’ Path State Park on a recent tour of the park’s Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground.  This was truly an unexpected gift from the Lions Clubs International Foundation and their generosity has been a ‘wish come true’ effort for our entire community.”

According to Steadman, this fateful tour included Lions Clubs International Foundation Chairman Sid Scruggs III, along with the Kingsport Lions Club’s own Doug Haseltine, and ultimately resulted in the installation of the OmniSpin® Spinner.  This rotating playground structure offers children of all abilities, including those who utilize wheelchairs, valuable vestibular sensory stimulation and encourages interactive play. Other features of this unique “merry-go-round” include high-back seats; transfer points from wheelchair or walker; durable and colorfast craftsmanship; and a speed limiter for added safety.

“As that tour progressed along the perimeter of the playground’s Lions Narnia™ Braille Trail, Mr. Scruggs saw many instances where children with various challenges were assisted by buddies of all abilities, and asked us if they needed anything more in the playground,” Haseltine recalled. “Mary briefly described the accessible OmniSpin® Spinner and Mr. Scruggs got on his cell phone.”  Haseltine added that after only a few calls, “Mr. Scruggs was certain the Foundation could help grant the wish for an accessible merry-go-round.”

“This is not the first time the Lions Clubs International Foundation have demonstrated their generosity to Darrell’s Dream,” said Steadman.  “It was thanks to gifts from various Lions Club organizations and the Lions Clubs International Foundation that the Lions Narnia™ Braille Trail opened at the park in 2009.”

Betty DeVinney, president of the Friends of Warriors’ Path, said the support from Lions Club members – both locally and internationally – has been amazing.  “The Lions Club members understand how elements of play offer very important developmental abilities to people of all abilities,” said DeVinney.  “The Lions’ focus on helping the vision impaired has been a natural link with Darrell’s Dream. They’ve been wonderful, both for the monetary gifts and for the hundreds of volunteer hours they have contributed to making Darrell’s Dream a reality.”

Speaking for the Lions Clubs International Foundation, past District Governor for East Tennessee Lions Clubs Charles Bailey added, “Lions Clubs worldwide share the motto ‘we serve.’ Darrell’s Dream is obviously serving a need to provide a place where children of all abilities can develop and learn from one another, and the OmniSpin® Spinner will expand that service to the community.”

Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground is a place where children of all abilities can learn and play together.  The Boundless Playground opened at Warriors’ Path in April 2007, and is made possible through public-private partnerships.   Warriors’ Path is the first state park in the nation to provide a Boundless Playground for visitors. The playground is supported by the Friends of Warriors’ Path, an organization that fosters conservation and educational efforts, while assisting the park in its efforts to better preserve and protect its existing facilities and resources.

Planning for the Boundless Playground Complex began in 2001 by the Friends of Warriors’ Path State Park organization, led at that time by the late Darrell Rice, an active community volunteer.  Supported by a growing group of individual and group volunteers and generously sponsored by many local businesses and civic clubs, the complex – named in memory of Rice – now includes play equipment and play areas designed for specific age and development groups, the Lions Narnia™ Braille Trail, the fully-accessible Anderson Treehouse, and the most recent addition of the Palmer Center Foundation Amphitheater.

“Darrell’s Dream Playground continues to attract thousands of visitors to Warriors’ Path State Park, while educating others on the need for accessible play areas,” said Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill, Tennessee State Parks.  “I want to personally thank Sid Scruggs and the entire Lions Clubs organization, along with our great Warriors’ Path Friends group for their dedication toward this project.”

For more information about Warriors’ Path and Tennessee State Parks, please visit www.tnstateparks.com.

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