Playground planned for city park 

Jamie Rodriguez, 8, loves going to parks but often sits on the sidelines and watches the other children as they play on jungle gyms and slides.

Because Jamie has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, she can’t join them. Usually, she doesn’t enjoy playgrounds unless they have a sandbox where she can play, said her mom, Melissa Vaughan.

"She loves to go out, but she can’t walk and use her body like we can," Vaughan said. "It’d mean a lot to her to be able to play. I see her watching the other kids, and sometimes they do come over and play with her, but as soon as they’re ready to go away, that’s it."

It’s because of children like Jamie that San Carlos has put together a plan to build a new, accessible playground at Burton Park.

This year, the city’s parks department launched the San Carlos Parks and Recreation Foundation, a new nonprofit arm aimed at attracting private donations. Its first goal is to raise $300,000 to buy playground equipment and hire builders to install the new facility at Burton Park, said Barry Weiss, the city’s director of parks and recreation.

Within the first month, the foundation has raised $25,000 and already had $22,000 in donations set aside.

The disabled-accessible structures will have more features within arm’s reach of wheelchair-bound youths, and will have ramps so they can ride up into play structures, according to Weiss. Only the park at Coyote Point offers some similar amenities, according to Kent Mickelson, executive director of the Center for the Independence of the Disabled.

For parents such as Vaughan and Susan Langi, whose 11-year-old son uses a wheelchair, it just means seeing their kids happy.

"An accessible park often means the difference between being able to go and not being able to go," Langi said. "It’s important for him just to be able to be out in the community."

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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