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ONLY ON ABC-7: A push for more accessibility at parks, city says it’s coming

Six years after The Junior League of El Paso and The Miracle League of El Paso built the first baseball field for kids with disabilities, the local Miracle League said it’s still waiting for leaders to give kids a full-access place to play.

Public Works Deputy City Manager Ted Marquez said all 170 playgrounds are accessible to wheelchair users. He said the one at Ponder Park was built as a pilot program.

“The equipment is little bit bigger, it’s got more amenities,” said Marquez.

It was designed to allow kids who use wheelchairs to roll through the playground with more space; in place of traditional sand or wood chips, the Ponder Park playground has rubber mats to soften any potential falls, and avoid sandy messes.

Sandie Olivar, with The Miracle League of El Paso, said the park is a great first step, but it doesn’t give children with disabilities a way to play without additional adult assistance.

“There (are) swings that kids with disabilities could use if their parents were able to pick them up and place them in the swings,” said Olivar.

This is video of a park in Fort Smith, Arkansas, that has a swing like the one Olivar described.

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Marquez said a typical playground runs around $50,000 to $80,000, but adding specialized equipment nearly triples the cost.

“Probably going to be between $300,000 and $500,000 just depending on what we need to set it up,” said Marquez.

Despite the cost, Olivar said she wants to “push the powers that be” to build the specialized playgrounds.

Marquez said planning is in the process of looking at possible locations throughout the city.

“So they don’t have to feel like they’re standing by watching somebody else play,” said Marquez.

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