Release Date: October 24, 2023
CHARLESTOWN, Ind. – Children of all abilities can explore the new accessible playground at Greenway Park in Charlestown as the city and the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana cut the ribbon to the expansive space on Tuesday, Oct. 24.
Visitors are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild with the park’s forest-themed design, which offers inclusive play spaces for everyone. The fenced-in playground features a wheelchair ramp, with accessibility to most of the park’s elaborate set-up. It also includes a more cushioned flooring surface to make playtime safer for kids – and easier to navigate for parents.
The park update was a vision of the 2021 Parks Masterplan. In 2022, the City of Charlestown was selected to receive the Quality of Place: Pathways to Progress grant of $150,000 from the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana to make it a reality.
“With the installation of this new playground, we are showing our commitment to accessibility throughout the city of Charlestown,” said Mayor Treva Hodges. “I see this as a great beginning to creating a community in which everyone can feel welcome. We owe our gratitude to the parents and caregivers who helped inform us about the need, and to the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana for their grant of financial support that makes this playground possible.”
Greenway Park is a central welcoming spot for residents and visitors, located off Market Street and across from the city square.
“Thanks to our newest grant program, we can focus solely on projects that continue to help transform our region into a more inclusive destination,” said Linda Speed, President and CEO at the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana. “The idea stemmed originally from our community, where we learned that when we make our parks, trails, and other public spaces and amenities more accessible to our most vulnerable residents, we make our community more open and welcoming to all. With that valuable feedback, we knew we needed to make accessibility a priority in our communities moving forward.”
Accessibility was key in the selection of play structure options from Bluegrass Playgrounds, who installed the equipment. Lower heights to board the merry-go-round, appropriate guardrail heights, added safe zones, and the safe floor surface are part of the accessibility additions. Plus, there are multiple sensory experiences within the area to develop motor skills.
In 2023, the City of Charlestown launched a Disability Advisory Committee to expand access to programming for individuals with disabilities.
“I’m so blessed & honored to be a part of the City of Charlestown’s first Disability Advisory Committee,” said Amy Benavides, Charlestown resident and member of the Disability Advisory Committee. “Having a child with disabilities is challenging. It can be hard for people to understand their needs. We are excited to have a new accessible playground in our hometown where my daughter, Carissa, can play safely with other children.”
No matter the stage of a child’s development, the Greenway Park playground will provide opportunities for solo play, group play, or to sit back and be a watcher. Local artist Ericka Johnson added fun, visual street art to the pathways leading to the playground too.
“A big thank you to Mayor Treva Hodges for listening to our concerns in the community and making this dream a reality,” added Benavides. “And a huge thank you to the
Community Foundation of Southern Indiana for their generous support!”
Playing together fosters a strong community. Parks Director Marissa Knoebel said the space will bring kids together of all ages and abilities while providing a fun, safe, and secure place for kids to play and explore.
“From high up in the treetops to down low with the caterpillar, we cannot wait to see the joy on kids’ faces as they create lasting memories and friendships with those around them,” said Knoebel.
The playground is open daily, from dawn until dusk with the gate locked during nighttime hours.