A new park is in the works for Troy, and this one has a twist, which city officials hope will benefit the entire community. Its focal point is a playground, fully accessible to children with disabilities. And city leaders say it's the first of its kind in Pike County.
One of those children is 9-year-old Payton Langford, who is like any other third grader in most ways. However, cerebral palsy almost confined her to a wheelchair, and today, costs her full mobility on her left side. That makes some typical playground activities impossible. “If I had two hands, then I might do the monkey bars,” she said.
Payton plays for Miracle League, a special baseball league in Troy geared to kids with special needs. While her mother calls it a lifesaver, it only runs through summer. That’s why parents say another outlet, like a park, is vital. “They say that all things should be equal, and in order for our kids, the special needs kids, to have something to feel equal, we needed something for them to have besides the Miracle League, when that's not going on,” said Paige Langford, Payton’s mother.
However, the park isn’t just for people with physical disabilities. It will also feature activity panels geared to children with autism or other intellectual or emotional disabilities. Dan Smith, Director of Troy Parks and Recreation, says it’s a key component of the park, which is meant to include the entire community. He says the park and its special features will be open to everyone. “They may look to the normal person that it would just be wheels or balls or you know spinning apparatuses, but they stimulate many senses in people of all abilities,” he said.
It’s a project Troy has been working towards for months. An official timeline will be slated in November, although Smith says the city hopes to finish the project by next summer. The park will be located directly across from the Recreation building, near Sportsplex.
The State of Alabama has awarded a $50,000 grant for the $200,000 project. The City of Troy is contributing an additional $50,000. Officials say they need about $90,000 in additional funding for the project, which will be raised with donations.
If you would like to contact with the park fund, contact Dan Smith at Troy Parks and Recreation at (334) 566-4031.