Submitted by Gerry Clare
“How would I feel, if my children or I were not physically able to enjoy this wonderful playground? Or if I was an elderly grandparent, or a wounded veteran and had the same problem?” These are questions that Aaron Morgan, a local corporate pilot with two young children asked himself, while at a playground years ago.
He had recently seen a TV special about “Preston’s Hope,” a universally accessible playground and this project had been on his mind. So, in 2005, he and a group of concerned citizens formed an organization to pursue this goal for our community. The city of Fernandina Beach donated the land between the Atlantic Rec Center and the Egan’s Creek Greenway. The group, now reorganized as a local 501C3 (8 Flags Playscapes) has as its goal to reach $250,000 for the equipment and construction. When it is complete, hopefully in May of 2014, the playground will be given to the city of Fernandina Beach.
The architect , Ted Kempton, re-engineered the original plans, based on a similar project in Tampa to fit the Fernandina Beach, community, taking into consideration the history of this small town. The resulting theme is a nautical one, to which local children and parents contributed their ideas, including the new name, “Pirate Playground.”
Morgan says that they are trying to get grants and raise money local through fundraising projects including one upcoming at the Amelia Island Film Festival this weekend and the Saturday, March 23rd First Coast Heel-n-Wheel event at the Atlantic Rec Center, starting with registration and check in at 9 a.m. for the two mile wheel and walk, games, music, food and fun for the whole family.
They hope to kick off a six month campaign called “Pirates Dreams,” where 200 people donate $1,000 dreams towards this project. So far, they already have 18 dreams promised. Go to their website at www.8flagsplayscapes.org for playground plans and more information or call 904-335-7253. The group also plans to continue after the playground is complete to raise funds for the continuing upkeep of this project which “promotes inclusion for children and adults of all abilities.
March 22, 2013 11:00 a.m.