Promoting play in the Show-Me State

Missouri's Johnson County Sheltered Workshop aims to build inclusive playground for kids with disabilities

Play is paramount. That’s a given for able-bodied children, and it may be even more important for kids with disabilities.

“For any child, there’s so much more involved in the playground than just play. We’re talking social skills, sensory skills, imagination, memory,” says Jamie Grohe, who lives in Warrensburg, Missouri.

“And for children with disabilities, whose life is about hospitals and nurses and doctors, it’s so much more important. They need the social contact with kids their own age. For them, play really is therapy.”

For more than 30 years, the Johnson County Sheltered Workshop, based in Warrensburg, has served those with developmental disabilities—providing starting employment for adults through its Ridgeview Café, full-service recycling center, A Pretty Penny thrift store, and other workforce opportunities.

And now, the Johnson County Board of Services and Sheltered Workshop are working with Warrensburg Parks and Recreation to build an inclusive playground in Warrensburg, with construction slated to begin in 2017. The inclusive playground will include wheelchair-accessible swings, slides and seesaws, all on a large rubberized pad, where kids with disabilities can swing, slide and climb with their friends and family.

“A playground like this also breaks down barriers,” says Grohe. “We’re all a little conscious of being in the presence of someone who appears to be different than us, especially children. By playing together and interacting, the able-bodied kids also learn and grow.”

We work hard at Enbridge to be good neighbors in the communities where we operate, in a variety of ways—economically, socially and culturally. We believe strongly in enhancing the quality of life in those communities, and we recently provided financial support for the Johnson County Sheltered Workshop’s inclusive playground project.

“The Johnson County Sheltered Workshop serves more than 200 families in the Warrensburg area, and the work they do in the community is tremendously beneficial,” says Mike Moeller, senior director of Enbridge’s U.S. Midcontinent Region. “The inclusive park project will encourage respect and understanding. It’ll be exciting to watch the project take shape.”

Enbridge is among a large number of community businesses and organizations in the Warrensburg area that have stepped up in the hopes of turning these ambitious plans into reality.

“Sometimes, when you’re in fundraising mode, you want to think big,” says Grohe. “But often, we find it’s several of the smaller grants and donations that help us get through.”