Kiwanis leaps to raise funds for Canton all abilities playground

·3 min read

Jul. 13—Kiwanis has leapt to the opportunity to partner with the town of Canton to help provide them with future access to an all abilities playground.

The planned all abilities playground replaces the small playground that was damaged during the August 2021 flood.

"It will be where the old, damaged playground used to be," incoming Kiwanis president Eva Hansen said.

Hansen said the project was brought to their attention by the Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers last fall after the club's work on the Waynesville playground became known.

"Myself and the board recognized the wonderful job Kiwanis has done in Waynesville," Smathers said. "After the flood, we thought it was a great opportunity to build the biggest and best all abilities playground in Haywood county."

Smathers said they were counting on Kiwanis to help make the updated playground a reality.

"It is very important to myself and the town that the playground be all abilities in that no matter what you are dealing with, you can visit this playground and for a few minutes, be able to smile," he said.

Kiwanis's goal for the playground is to provide inclusive, accessible and safe playground environment where non-typically and typically developing children can experience play together or individually. They want this to benefit all the children in the area including those with developmental and physical challenges.

Planning stages

The total project budget is $315,000. The Kiwanis club of Waynesville has confirmed about half of the needed funds for the project so far. They received $4,077 total from the Lucky Draw at Canton's July Fourth Plus One event. They have also confirmed $125,000 from the Town of Canton, plus a $5,000 in-kind donation, $7,500 from Community Foundation of WNC and $10,000 for Haywood Healthcare foundation.

Other donations are expected from Kiwanis International, the Lion's Club of Canton and the Kiwanis Carolinas District.

Janice Freeman won the Lucky Draw, and she donated her $1,000 winnings back to the project.

"Right now Kiwanis is at the initial planning and fundraising stage," Hansen said. "We are in the midst of planning and fundraising right now. We are halfway through the fundraising process, so we have raised half of the commitment so far."

Kiwanis is raising funds by applying for grants and approaching corporations for sponsorships for donations.

"Our goal is to have all of the funds at the end of December," Hansen said.

She said they are hoping the all abilities playground will be open for late spring. "It depends on the weather and the success of fundraising," Hansen said.

Phase two would be purchasing equipment and installation.

"The park will have swings that will accommodate children," Hansen said. "It will have hooks so children don't even have to get out of the wheelchair. A parent can be on one side. It will be accessible. There will also be slides though they are still in the process of planning."

She added that the whole park plan hasn't been designed yet.

For safety, the park will have a rubberized surface, much like the all abilities playground in Waynesvile.

"Kiwanis is all about children," Hansen said. "The founding statement is improving the world one child and one community at a time. They want to provide a safe environment for children to practice their skills and for children to work together."

To make a donation or request to serve on the planning committee, contact Eva Hansen, Kiwanis Club of Waynesville at evalynnhansen@gmail.com.