HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — Thirteen-year-old Tyler Engelke likes to hang out at the Ability Sports Complex behind Bridge Community Church in Hutto. The courts and baseball field are for everyone including children with physical and intellectual disabilities. Tyler has Autism.
However, the playground at the complex isn’t very accommodating. CTX Ability Sports, which operates the complex, has won a grant to replace the smaller playground with a shaded 2,500 square-foot facility. It would have equipment for kids with disabilities.
Tyler and about a dozen other kids are helping the national non-profit KaBoom! design the new space. KaBoom! has collected all the suggestions from children and parents, and is in the process of coming up with three designs for the community to choose from.
“A molding station would be cool, like a little sand molding station would be kind of cool to see,” says Tyler.
Tyler’s mother, Courtney Engelke, would like to see some features that soothe kids.
“Like a cocoon you could spin in but at the same time you could get that snug feeling that helps a lot of kids if they’re having a meltdown or they’re getting overwhelmed,” explains Engelke.
CTX Ability Sports wants to open up the new playground to surrounding school districts, a place where kids with disabilities can take field trips during the week.
“It really gives my kid the opportunity to not be the odd one out, he is accepted, he’s just normal,” says Engelke of her son Tyler.
The total cost of the playground is $120,000, with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas paying for most of it.
Organizers still need to raise about $10,000 to secure that grant, so they’ve created a gofundme page.
If all funds are raised, volunteers will come together on September 10, to build the playground in one day.
There is a similar park for children with disabilities to enjoy in Round Rock.
The Play for All Abilities Park opened in 2011, and was created for children with disabilities and those without, to play side by-side.
CTX Ability Sports says their playground is different because it will compliment the existing sports fields to create an entire play complex for kids. They also say their playground will be for kids of all ages.