Franklin teens raising money to construct new, inclusive playground

FRANKLIN, Ind. – The City of Franklin is moving forward with plans to construct a new, inclusive public playground that was designed by a group of Franklin High School students.

The 23 teenagers are members of the Franklin Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council. Last year, the group brainstormed the idea to build an inclusive playground that would be accessible to all children, including those with disabilities.

“It’s accessible to handicapped children as well as able-bodied children, and they can play with each other,” said Franklin H.S. Junior, Jonathan Ott. “We thought that was the most important.”

“A couple kids on the council have siblings that are handicapped and so they have to travel long distances to go anywhere that their siblings can play,” said Franklin H.S. Senior, Emma Beavins.

The teens on the council teamed up with Gametime, a commercial playground equipment manufacturer, to design the blueprint for the playground. The equipment will feature modern designs to include wide ramps so that children who use wheelchairs and walkers will be able to access the same equipment as other kids.

“We tried to imagine something that would be one hundred percent beneficial to the community,” Ott said. “And that’s where the idea came from.”

The design was presented to Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett, who gave his approval.

The plan is to build the playground next spring at Franklin’s Blue Heron Park. The existing playground at the park is being torn down because of years of flood damage. The new playground will be built in a different spot in the park, so it’s not located in a flood plain.

The total cost for construction is expected to be around $305,000. About half that cost will be covered by a $70,000 grant from GameTime and Parks fees paid by local home developers.

Now, the students are working to raise $150,000 to cover the rest of the cost, which they consider a legacy project.

“We can come back twenty, twenty-five years later with our own kids and see them playing on the park,” Ott said. “And I think that’s just something pretty incredible to say that we in the council built that.”

“It’ll be a really weird thing to bring my kids back to this place, but it’ll be really cool too, knowing that we’ve done this,” Beavins said.

The students are already reaching out to several local companies for financial contributions.

The public is also welcome to make donations toward the project. If you’d like to make a donation, you can contact the Johnson County Community Foundation at (317) 738-2213. You can also call the Franklin Mayor’s office at (317) 736-3602, or the Parks and Recreation office at (317) 736-3689.