Our Town: Peosta ready to construct an all-inclusive playground

After years of planning, the $250,000 playground arrived for Christmas
Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 6:24 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PEOSTA, Iowa (KCRG) - The semi-trailer truck arrived three hours late.

But people in Peosta have actually waited more than a year for this delivery.

“It feels like an early Christmas present,” said Peosta Elementary Parent Group President Emily Schmerbach.

For more than a year, Peosta parents have planned for the day they can raise enough money to replace the playground equipment at the elementary school with something every child can use.

And just before Christmas a semi-filled with large poles and lots of other pieces arrived.

The new parts are being stored in a storage area near the current playground which kids like 11-year-old Lucy Wilhelm know has its own deficiencies.

“It’s kinda like an old playground and like it’s starting to grow old”

Lucy is younger than the current playground equipment at Peosta Elementary School.

She likes it, even though the uneven ground is filled with mulch.

Lucy manages even though she wears a brace.

But she’s thinking of others.

“People who have wheelchairs, they can’t go on this.”

That’s why a grassroots effort started in the Summer of 2021 to build something new.

“We had it custom-made,” added Schmerbach.

Once assembled, it will be Peosta’s first all-inclusive children’s playground to be located just feet from the old one.

“Completely financed”, she said.

“We are ready to go, we are ready to have this thing in.”

The new playground will have something at every level to stimulate a child’s mind and exercise their body.

It will have a rubbery platform rather than mulch.

There won’t be anything that could stop Lucy and her friends.

“When we install the new playground people will be able to go on it like who have wheelchairs and other stuff that they can’t go on this playground,” said Lucy.

All-inclusive playgrounds are nothing new.

They’ve become more commonplace as more parents find it important for children of all abilities to share time together without someone staying on the sidelines and not participating.

“In the past years it’s just been great and everything has gotten more inclusive and the people are recognizing that all kids need to be together,” said parent Kristin Mayo who is also part of the Peosta Elementary Parent Group.

Kristen Mayo’s daughter has Down Syndrome.

“She has friends in wheelchairs, she has friends with other issues making it harder for them to move around so it’s just nice they’ll all be able to play and run in an area and have access to all of the equipment.”

But inclusiveness isn’t cheap.

Peosta was successful in not only raising $100,000 needed for the original plan, it found a way to pay a much bigger final price tag of just under $250,000.

Not only were there big donations but small ones too.

Lucy donated $200 of her communion money for the effort.

“We had other children who donated birthday money they received or instead of gifts for their birthdays they asked for money to be sent for the playground,” said Schmerbach.

And for Kristin Mayor, it’s just as important for adults as it is for kids.

“It has really felt like a community project.”

The new equipment won’t be installed until later in the Spring, sometime in April perhaps.

The temperature needs to stay warm enough for installation of the rubber base.