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New playground equipment for children of all abilities installed at Kirby Park

Blue and green adaptable swings hang on a swing set.

Wheelchair accessible ramps are flushed into a bright blue soft ground surface.

There’s a modest zip line and monkey bars in various heights at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre.

The 11 new pieces of playground equipment at the park were installed to bring together children of all abilities to play.

“It's full inclusion, whether you're special needs or you're not enjoying the park together," said Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown.

Around a year and a half ago the mayor started a committee to create the Special Needs Playground at Kirby Park.

“I've always had a special place in my heart for special needs children and adults," Brown said.

Members of the committee include people who have family members with special needs and businesses that work with people with special needs.

They had a fundraising goal of $400,000. So far, the committee has raised more than $500,000.

The park was on schedule to have an upcoming grand opening. But last on Sept. 7, Brown stopped by to check out the playground equipment. He noticed the soft blue ground had footprints in it and areas around the zip line were torn up.

“It really was it was a very sad situation to see this after all the work that our committee put into this," he said.

The mayor is hoping to be able to install an additional zip line but he’s waiting on an estimate to see how much it will cost to repair the damage on the first one. The Wilkes-Barre Police are also working on finding those who damaged it.

Part of updating the accessibility of the 52-acre Kirby park included putting in new sidewalks that lead to each of the park’s pavilions and the pond.

With grant funding, the city is also planning on repaving the road off of Market Street into Kirby and the parking lot to make them both more ADA accessible.

Also, Brown says they are planning on constructing a new bathroom facility that will also be accessible for families with children with special needs.

With the extra funds raised, the city plans to put at least one piece of adaptable equipment at each of Wilkes-Barre’s 18 parks.

The city is still accepting donations for the project. To donate, contact the Luzerne Foundation either by phone, mail or online.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.