SEPT. 28, 2011 -- Kids of all abilities will soon have a new place to play in O'Fallon, Mo. Brendan's Playground, in Paul A. Westhoff Park, will officially open on Saturday, Oct. 1, following a grand opening celebration at 3 p.m.
The all-inclusive and accessible playground allows all children to interact and play together. The bug-themed playground includes traditional, toddler, ADA accessible and saucer swings; a splash pad (opening next spring); playground instruments, including a custom piano and three other instruments; fully ramped climbing structures; and special slides that are safe for those with cochlear implants.
The playground was named for 9-year-old Brendan Schmitt. Schmitt is a Westhoff Elementary School student who suffers from a rare genetic disease called Thompson Syndrome. Due to the effects of the disease, he has difficulty using traditional playground equipment. Schmitt has prepared a speech for the opening ceremony.
"Brendan's Playground is a dream come true for families who have a child with disabilities, because now kids of all abilities can play together," said O'Fallon Mayor Bill Hennessy. "This unique playground will be a popular destination for all kids, because they are going to find that this is truly the best playground around."
Fredbird will make an appearance at the opening celebration on Oct. 1, which is geared towards families and includes refreshments, a cast of characters to entertain the kids, a band, singing by 250 students from J.L. Mudd Elementary School and Westhoff Elementary School, and the opening ceremony, which will be officiated by Hennessy.
Brendan's Playground is the result of a partnership between the City of O'Fallon and Unlimited Play. Unlimited Play is a local nonprofit that helps play, design and build fully accessible playgrounds.
"Simply put, children need to play with other children," Unlimited Play's website states. "Yet for so many children with disabilities, their days are spent with parents, doctors, nurses, therapists, and other adults. But on the playground, kids play with kids. And on accessible playgrounds, children can swing, slide and climb with friends -- as well as siblings and parents -- like they never even imagined."
Brendan's Playground is located in Paul A. Westhoff Park, 810 Sheppard Drive, O'Fallon, Mo., 63366.
Unlimited Play has also helped build accessible playgrounds in Hawk Ridge Park in Lake Saint Louis and Shaw Park in Clayton.
Pictured: Workers put the finishing touches on Brendan's Playground in Westhoff Park. Photos courtesy of the city of O'Fallon, Mo.