City of Tampa’s Parks and Recreation Department Receives $35,000 ‘Meet me at the Park’ Grant
The City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department has been awarded a $35,000 ‘Meet me at the Park’ Play Space Grant from the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) and The Walt Disney Company. The funds will be used to enhance three playgrounds by adding new elements specifically designed for children with autism to enable them to interact with their peers in a new and inclusive way. The City collaborated with the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities(CARD) at the University of South Florida to identify neighborhood playgrounds. The three targeted playgrounds for improvement are Al Lopez Park in West Tampa, New Tampa Park, and Takomah Trail Park.
“In just five short months, we have turned a corner in how we serve those touched by Autism and their families in this City,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “The funding from this grant will further our mission to become an Autism Friendly city that everyone can experience and enjoy.”
The playgrounds will offer an opportunity for inclusive play among our residents. The renovated playgrounds will feature elements similar to Playworld's Cozy Cocoon that is designed for those with autism spectrum disorders allowing quiet areas to avoid overstimulation. The interior textures and molded in features offer tactile exploration. Another proposed unit is GameTime's Sensory Wave Spinning Seat for freestanding play activities for children of all ages. These will offer children with autism a quiet zone, while still keeping them engaged in the play zone. The final playground elements have not been determined and community input, per the grant requirements, will be utilized to determine the needs of the community.
The Meet Me at the Park grant is a collaboration between the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and The Walt Disney Company to bring the magic of parks and recreation to children and families across the United States. The City of Tampa’s Parks and Recreation Department was awarded a 1:1 matching grant worth $35,000 for the enhancement of three playgrounds by adding new elements specifically designed for children with autism to enable them to interact with their peers in a new and inclusive way. The City of Tampa has allocated $45,000 in the FY2018 budget to meet the matching requirement of the grant pending the availability of resources.
In Mayor Buckhorn’s 2017 State of the City, he announced Autism Friendly Tampa – a city initiative and partnership with CARD-USF to invest in infrastructure, programs, and training that will lead to a more autism-friendly city. For more highlights on the progress of this initiative, visit tampagov.net.
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