Indiana's first all-accessible playground is in need of a makeover in Johnson County

GREENWOOD, Ind. -- Indiana's first all-accessible playground is in need of a makeover. Independence Park is a 13.5 acre park built in 2000 with special equipment for children with disabilities. Now almost two decades later, Johnson County Parks and Recreation is looking to gather the support of the community again to revitalize this popular playground. 

Independence Park is also the only park located in White River Township and it hosts thousands of visitors each year. The land sits off Morgantown Road, just south of Olive Branch Road in Greenwood. The entrance to the park is just north of Center Grove Elementary, Center Grove Middle School Central, and Center Grove High School. It is surrounded by several large neighborhoods with young families, making it a hot spot on a sunny day. 

The parks department says one of the most critical needs at this time is to replace the older equipment. 

"It has been very well loved and used, which means that it is time for a makeover," says Megan Bowman, Superintendent of the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department. "The purpose of the park was to provide a place for people of all abilities to play together, and staying true to the original mission was of the utmost importance to us."

Currently, the park accommodates a variety of interests, especially those who enjoy outdoor activities on the paved trail, on the playground and on the basketball courts. The park also has three rentable shelters to use for family activities and it has rolling hills with a large green space to play in. The main gazebo provides a communal space for families to get out of the sun and enjoy a picnic.

The park also includes several pieces of equipment for handicapped children, Soundplay Music Equipment for sensory learning, and a StoryWalk along the trail to inspire young readers.

"In the 17 years since the park's opening, inclusive playground equipment has improved drastically, and awareness of its necessity has increased," Bowman said. "We looked different playground designs and at ways that we could adjust the layout of the new equipment in order to meet everyone's needs."

Part of the success of Independence Park comes from the community. This park was developed and constructed with the help of more than 200 businesses, civic organizations, and individuals. And now the parks department is looking to the community for ideas for the park's future.

"We looked different playground designs and at ways that we could adjust the layout of the new equipment in order to meet everyone's needs," says Bowman. "We also considered a lot of the feedback that we have received on our social media pages. We knew that some of our existing amenities would stay, like our shelters, basketball courts and the sensory friendly music equipment."

The estimated cost for the new equipment is $324,755.00 and Johnson County Parks and Recreation is now looking to the community for help. There is now a fund set up through the Johnson County Community Foundation. 

"The community played a huge role in the creation of Independence Park, and we will need the same support to give it the make-over it deserves," says Bowman. "There are thousands of visitors to the park every year, and it holds a special place in many hearts. Including ours."

The parks department hopes to hold two fundraisers at the park to raise funds as well as provide sponsorship opportunities. 

Here's a look at how individuals, businesses, and community groups can support this revitalization effort:

  • Brick & Paver Sponsorship, $150 & $250
    • With the purchase of your personalized, engraved brick your family or organization will become a permanent part of the rebuilt playground. Engraved bricks can honor your child or family member who plays here every weekend or recognize a graduate who played here in their younger days, remember a loved one, show support for an organization, or even advertise your business with the donation.
    • The new bricks and pavers will provide an accessible walkway up to our American Flag and show your support for the rebuilding efforts taking place at Independence Park.
  • Spin Sponsor, $500-$999
    • Spin Sponsors will receive special recognition on our permanent donor wall, logo/names will be placed on our website, and sponsors will receive special recognition at our ribbon cutting ceremony.
  • Glide Sponsor, $1,000-$2,999
    • As a Glide Sponsor, you will receive special recognition on our permanent donor wall, logos/names will be placed on our website, mentioned on our social media pages & other media, along with special recognition at our ribbon cutting ceremony.
  • Climb Sponsor, $3,000-$4,999
    • As a Climb Sponsor, you will receive special recognition on our permanent donor wall, logos/names will be placed on our website, mentioned on our social media pages & other media special recognition at our ribbon cutting ceremony and your logo/name will be printed on t-shirts for the ceremony. You will also receive an engraved brick with the information of your choice.
  • Slide Sponsor, $5,000
    • Slide Sponsors will receive special recognition on our permanent donor wall, logos/names will be placed on our website, mentioned on our social media pages & other media, special recognition at our ribbon cutting ceremony and your logo/name will be printed on t-shirts for the ceremony. You will also receive two engraved pavers, with the information of your choice.
  • Component Sponsor 
    • If you are interested in sponsoring a specific piece of equipment at the playground, there are a variety of components to choose from! These are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
    • If there is a component that you desire to sponsor, please contact Megan Bowman or Kevin Leonard as soon as possible to confirm sponsorship and forward your sponsorship. Recognition for each component will vary. Email mbowman@co.johnson.in.us for the most up to date list of available components.

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