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Keokuk park to open splash pad for kids with disabilities

Will Buss
Tri States Public Radio

A southeast Iowa playground will soon include a splash pad accessible for all children. Bentley’s Playground is building the splash pad in Tolmie Park in Keokuk.

The splash pad will permit children with physical disabilities to enjoy playground equipment with squirting and cascading water during the summer months.

Keokuk-based nonprofit groups KPLAY Playgrounds for All and the Keokuk Oddfellows helped raise the more than $200,000 needed to pay for the project.

“Basically, there will be a device off to the side that the kids will push a button and water will squirt out so they can run through,” said KPLAY Playgrounds for All President Trish Payne.

“You’ll be able to do it if you are in a wheelchair.”

KPLAY Playgrounds for All formed about eight years ago to provide a playground that could include children with physical disabilities.

Payne said the new splash pad will probably be open and running during the same hours when the city pool is open during the summer months.

Bentley’s Playground is named after Payne’s grandson, who was born with cerebral palsy.

“As he got older, he loved to swing. But as he grew, it got to the point where we weren’t able to put him in our lap and swing,” Payne said.

Located near the city’s public pool on Plank Road, the playground opened five years ago and includes swings and slides that are safe for physically disabled children. Before the playground opened, families with children who needed adaptive equipment had to drive to Iowa City or St. Louis to use a playground.

To date, KPLAY Playgrounds for All and Keokuk Oddfellows have raised more than $600,000 in donations and grants to purchase equipment and build Bentley’s Playground.

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