Away from the podium, the cameras and the media, I sat with Jim Frazier to discuss what had transpired to bring an All Abilities Playground to East County. Emotionally, he proclaimed that “this is one of the greatest days of my life and I don’t want to leave”. I’d have to agree just by the sounds of children playing in the background throughout the day.
Just listening to David Chuey tell the story about his son yesterday summed up the purpose of an All Abilities playground while bringing tears to people eyes. He explained how it allows kids just to play and leave one’s disability behind. It allows a piece of mind, even for just a few hours.
This is an important feature to East County and everyone involved with this process I salute you.
I am proud of my community for working together to make this go from an idea to a reality—many were involved and I cannot name all of you. I am proud at the attendance yesterday. I am proud that the city and community can work together to make East County a better place for children.
Inspired by Mateo’s Dream in Concord, Jim and Janet Frazier’s own dream of nearly four years to open a similar site in East County finally became a reality with the help of many within the community. The park is ADA compliant and provides several wheelchair access points. There are also interactive areas for children who are hearing and visually impaired.
During yesterday’s ceremony, Jim Frazier proclaimed the work is not yet done and this is the first of many All Ability Playgrounds he hopes come to East County.
“This is a work in progress ladies and gentlemen. This is just the first step of what we want to do for the special needs community. Over in that sandbox area of there we would like to do a sandbox swing where we can bring the wheelchair in for them to actually have a swing to swing in,” said Frazier.
The city is working to install misters and trellis for the kids in the summertime, special needs kids tend to overheat faster. They also want to put a fence around the playground for kids who like to run to ease parent’s worries of heading towards the street.
“We are not done, we are going to continue. We are proud to make this available to the community; we want it out to all the communities that we are here for all people. We are the community that cares,” said Frazier.
Words cannot really describe how great it feels to see children of all abilities come together and just play. So I will let the pictures do the talking.
Representatives from all over the area came to show support of what this park means to special needs children and to Oakley. US Congressman Jerry McNerney was on hand, State Senator Mark Desaulnier was there, State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan was on hand, County Supervisor Mary Piepho was on hand, while a representative from State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla’s team was on hand.
Also on hand was the Oakley City Council which included Mayor Kevin Romick, Vice Mayor Carol Rios, and Pat Anderson. Randy Pope was oddly absent from the event. Not to be negative, but he should have been there at all costs, this was an important event for Oakley with plenty of notice.
Frazier also gave a shout out to the firefighters who help protect this community.
“I do want to acknowledge the firefighters that are here today, we have a special group of people that come out into the community doing special things. Whenever we ask for them to be at an event to represent, they are here. They are here to protect us also. I’d like everyone to turn around and thank the firefighters,” said Frazier.
Although he did not do so at the podium, Frazier also wanted to thank the Oakley police and Oleg the newest police dog, for coming out and supporting the community and helping make it a safer place.
Frazier also thanked the City of Oakley staff.
“Our staff really pulled this off. With the amount of money that was here, with the way they worked with the contractors to make this affordable to the community. They were so excited about this playground that we could not have a ground breaking because they got started right away. We want to say thank you so much because their inspiration, their dedication to the project. They make us look good when things get going,” said Frazier.