Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Temple Terrace's biggest all-inclusive playground takes shape, thanks to partnership

TEMPLE TERRACE

To strangers, Allie Blain seems a typical 8-year-old. She's happy and carefree with lots of energy. She loves playing outdoors.

But her parents, Wally and Renee Blain, and big sister, Abbie, know that the playtime Allie enjoys can be dangerous.

In 2005 she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that inhibits her blood from clotting properly and can pose a serious risk with every scraped knee or nicked elbow.

Her condition motivated the couple in 2008 to start Clouds of Hope, a nonprofit fundraising organization that benefits children who have life-altering disorders.

For the past few years, their No. 1 priority has been to revamp playgrounds in Temple Terrace for children of all abilities.

Through various fundraisers, the Blains' organization contributed to the playground at the Omar K. Lightfoot Center at Whiteway Drive and 56th Street, which opened last year. The city revamped another playground, at Riverside Park on Riverhills Drive east of 56th Street. The play areas now include special equipment and other accommodations that make them safe for all children, including those with physical limitations.

But the biggest payoff to date for the Blains came this month when they witnessed the groundbreaking for the city's largest "all-inclusive" playground, at Riverhills Park, near the banks of the Hillsborough River and next to Riverhills Elementary School, at 405 Riverhills Drive.

The original playground equipment at the site, determined to be beyond salvaging, was recently demolished.

The new playground, scheduled for completion in March, was designed by Hardeman-Kempton & Associates in Tampa, with the assistance of the Blains and the Freedom Playground Foundation, a similar effort that has worked to create inclusive playgrounds in Tampa area.

Bucket-seat swing sets will have harnesses and back support for youngsters lacking muscle control. A wheelchair-accessible path will lead to a sandbox equipped with a seat in which a physically disabled child can comfortably play.

Interactive water features, a fitness component and several heavy-duty plastic musical instruments considered therapeutic for children with autism also will be among the playground's amenities.

"The key is to integrate children of all abilities," said Ted Kempton of Hardeman-Kempton & Associates.

Ground cover will be a wheelchair-accessible rubberized surface above a concrete foundation.

Funding for the $160,000 project is through the partnership of Clouds of Hope, the city of Temple Terrace, Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County School District.

The county's $80,000 contribution is through its Community Development Block Grant program.

The school district will offer $32,000 because Riverhills Elementary students will also use the playground.

The city provided $33,000, and Clouds of Hope donated $15,000.

Then versus now

Longtime Temple Terrace resident James Chambers, the city's leisure services director, recalls his childhood days when little attention was given to protecting youngsters from harm on playgrounds, much less accommodating those with special needs.

But thanks, he said, to improved technology and the determination of people like the Blains, that mind-set is changing.

"The partnership is what's really neat about this project," said Chambers, who noted the design and bidding processes were coordinated by the city, which is responsible for maintaining the playground.

Renee Blain is equally pleased by how the separate entities joined forces to make it a reality.

"I don't think our family ever envisioned that our story would make such a large impact in the community," she said. "God has really answered our prayers."

The best thing, she said, is that there will be no limits on who is able to enjoy it.

"It's especially great for us because Allie and Abbie, 11, can now play together."

Joyce McKenzie can be reached at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

Temple Terrace's biggest all-inclusive playground takes shape, thanks to partnership 01/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Here's what it's like inside a writhing, growling Howl-O-Scream audition

    Florida

    TAMPA — At Busch Gardens, a Howl-O-Scream manager is hunting zombies.

    Auditioner Natalie Rychel, 20, of Tampa, Fla., high fives director of atmosphere Morgan Malice after being selected for a job for Bush Gardens' Howl-O-Scream during an audition at the theme park on Friday, August 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (From left) Auditioners Jared Shipley, 20, of Lakeland, Fla., and Lincoln Scott, 41, of Riverview, Fla., look over. This year, Howl-O-Scream will take place from September 22 to October 29 at Bush Gardens. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  2. Tampa Bay homeowners sue JPMorgan Chase for billing on already-paid mortgages

    Banking

    ST. PETERSBURG — Two Tampa Bay homeowners are suing JPMorgan Chase Bank for attempting to continue to collect on what they say were already-paid-off mortgages.

    JPMorgan Chase is the subject of a lawsuit by two Tampa Bay homeowners who say the bank attempted to collect on mortgages they already paid off. | [Getty Images]
  3. ‘Please don't let her be dead': Man struck by car recounts Charlottesville protest (w/video)

    Nation

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — With tires screeching and bodies flying, Marcus Martin shoved his fiancee out of the way of a car charging through a crowd of peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. [Ryan M. Kelly | The Daily Progress via AP]
  4. Taco Bell wants you to put 'Pop Rocks' on your burrito

    General

    Have you ever taken the first bite of your burrito and felt like the heat from the hot sauce wasn't enough?

    Taco Bell is trying out its Firecracker Burrito in three California locations. (Taco Bell)
  5. Live video: Mourners gather to remember Heather Heyer at Charlottesville rally

    Nation

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Mourners gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Wednesday to honor the woman who was killed when a car rammed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally that descended into violence last weekend.

    Women visit a memorial at 4th and Water Streets, Tuesday, Aug. 15 2017,  in Charlottesville, Va., where Heather Heyer was killed when a car rammed into a group of counterprotesters last weekend. Alex Fields Jr., is charged with second-degree murder and other counts after authorities say he rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters Saturday, where a white supremacist rally took place. [Associated Press]