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All-inclusive playground comes to Schuylkill County

Schuylkill County is getting its first all-inclusive playground as construction continues in Minersville.

MINERSVILLE, Pa. — Construction for the first all-inclusive playground in Schuylkill County is currently underway in Minersville. After planning and raising half a million dollars for this project for the past two years.

Vice president of Dustin's Adventureland, Jeff Dunkel, is excited to see this all come together.

"It's probably about a two-hour drive for families that have children with special needs to pack up their children, drive to that location, pack them back up and drive back home. Here it will be right in the backyard in Minersville, and the amount of people that have come out since we started this project and expressed how much this is going to impact their lives positively was pretty amazing," Dunkel said.

This project was inspired by Dustin Freed, an 11-year-old boy in the area who has autism.

His mom and board member, Amy Freed, says this playground is a game-changer.

"There's nowhere for him to go where people understand, and I think it's a lot of sensory overload for him. So it's nice to have this because a lot of families that are going to come here are going to have children with disabilities, and you feel like you fit in, and other people do understand," said Freed.

"It's kind of like a therapy session, if you will, because there are other parents that have kids with special needs, and they have nobody to talk to. So when they come to places like this, they can talk to other families with the same problems," adds Jim Womer, Dustin's Adventure President.

This playground will feature sensory panels, communication boards, a handicap-accessible zipline, and more. But accumulating the funds for this project hasn't been easy.

"Our initial price tag for the playground was about 435,000, so due to inflation, the price of fencing, the price of rubber, we've increased about $60,000 that are additional funds that we need to raise," explains Tonya Hoppel, Dustin's Adventure's Secretary.

With the help of the community, this playground will open on September 7, 2022.

"The joy that it's going to give to young kids that normally in certain circumstances, most circumstances don't have that opportunity to enjoy something like a playground that we all take for granted," mentions Bob Mahalchick, Minersville Borough Manager.

Throughout July and August, Dustin's Adventureland invites the community to help build the playground.

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