Neal Communities donates $75,000 for inclusive playground in Bradenton

BRADENTON — The community of Bradenton recently celebrated the groundbreaking at Lewis Park for construction of the city’s first all-inclusive playground experience, which will provide recreational opportunities for all area children.

The $415,000 ADA-compliant playground was made possible through a partnership between the city and the Rotary Club’s Suncoast Playground Projects, Inc., which secured community donations from several organizations, businesses and individuals. A $75,000 donation from Neal Communities helps launch the project.

“Our Rotary club was very interested in helping, so we came up with a plan,” said Tom Norton, who leads Rotary’s Suncoast Playground projects. “[Neal Communities] launched our fundraising campaign with their donation. They gave us a good nudge in the arm to get us going.

When complete, the playground will be the only purpose-built destination of its kind in Manatee County for children of all ages and abilities.

“Working with the Rotary Club on this ADA-compliant playground is something the City of Bradenton and all of its residents can be proud of,” said Mayor Gene Brown. “We want no child to be excluded from enjoying our neighborhood parks. We are very grateful for the efforts of the Rotary Club and look forward to seeing our children enjoy this beautiful park.

The play area will include separate play areas for 2-5 year olds and 5-12 year olds. The play area will also include a section of swings, one of which can accommodate a child in a wheelchair.

“We have all heard the familiar sounds of a playground where children are laughing, shouting and playing. To be denied as a child is not fair,” said Neal Communities President Michael Storey, who also contributed $15,000 from his personal funds. “We are really happy to have been able to help make this playground a reality for everyone.”

Lewis Park, located on First Avenue between 30th and 31st Streets, also features shade trees, walking paths, two gazebos, and grills. The project was spearheaded by the Rotary Clubs of Manatee County. Visit CityofBradenton.com/ParksRec for more information on the Bradenton Parks System.

Submitted by Christine McKelvey

Harold B. McConnell