To get the full scoop on our project, go here. To find out how you can help, go here.

Met With Roger Worthen

Today I met with the Syracuse City Manager, Roger Worthen to talk about my ideas for the playground. He seemed very supportive of the idea! I talked about my plans for the NPO, my funding and marketing strategies, and we went over a few possibilities for the location. I'd really like it to be at Jensen Park for several reasons. He said there is acreage available at Jensen Park, but wants me to present my idea in front of the city council and see what location might work best. I'm going to give a presentation at the city council meeting on July 14th.....

My Idea is Backed Up!

I've decided to spearhead the planning and fundraising for an accessible playground to be built in my city, Syracuse UT. This is HUGE. It would involve getting at least 2 acres donated by the city, and raising at least $800,000. I talked to the city manager today, and he said another citizen has brought this to their attention, and the city council backs up the idea, but the only thing that can do is donate the land - they have no extra funds to give.

Excuse me? Donate land? That's a BIG deal! Woo hoo! =)

We're meeting next Monday so I can go over my ideas and plans of how I'm going to raise the money. I have done loads of research about this, and I have some tricks up my sleeve to make this happen. It won't happen tomorrow or even next year. In fact, I have a goal to have the project completed within 5 years. That sounds like a long time, but it is a realistic goal.

About Our Project

A crucial part of childhood is socializing and playing with other children in a playground. Until now, Davis County children with disabilities (especially those in wheelchairs), have only been able to watch from the sidelines. Our project's mission is to change this, because all children deserve a place to play!

The 'No Child Left Out Project' is a Non-Profit Organization that is planning the dream of Syracuse's 'Sunshine Playground.' The playground will include features that will allow all children to play side-by-side and truly enjoy being children! To allow for wheelchair access, there will be transfer stations, ramps, wider paths, stable surfaces, table play, ample space around equipment, swings to accommodate children in wheelchairs, as well as auditory and tactile elements.

This is a video about the playground that inspired our project. We are partnering with Unlimited Play, who built this playground to streamline the process and ensure our end result is of the highest quality. This video is definitely worth a few minutes of your time....

UNLIMITED PLAY VIDEO from Ty Cobb on Vimeo.

Your donations will help turn this dream into a reality. If you are able to make a financial contribution, please click the button on the right sidebar, and you will be directed to paypal. If you would like to support the project in any other way, please contact Tara Bennett (Chloe's mom) at

Our project will not stop in Syracuse. Our ultimate goal is to get an accessible playground in every county of Utah.

Thank you to our amazing sponsors for supporting our efforts!

The Beginning

My neighbor and dear friend just dropped off this newspaper article for me to read. It touched me and I wanted to share it with you all....


Zachary's Playground lets all kids be kids
By Sharon Haddock
Mormon Times
Wednesday, May. 06, 2009

Standing in the middle of a playground in Lake St. Louis, Mo., in April 2007, Natalie Blakemore didn't know exactly where her son was for the first time since he was born.

And that made her cry.

Not because she was worried about his well-being, but because it meant 6-year-old Zachary was living in a normal child's world. He was playing with other children and experiencing a little bit of the delicious freedom that most children and their mothers take for granted.

People just don't realize how much a part playgrounds play in a child's life," Blakemore said.

"She was at an accessible playground in Washington, D.C., the first time she "watched him play like any other child."

"I said to my husband, 'Let's move here!' "

It was impractical to relocate to the East Coast, so Zachary's mother started on a journey that resulted in the creation of an accessible playground in Missouri. Cities across America are asking how to go about building one like it.

"Zachary's Playground" cost $800,000 and took 69 redesigns and four years to build.

"I still can't believe it's gone from my sitting at the kitchen table sketching to a reality," said Blakemore, a Brigham Young University graduate who had no idea when she gave birth to her son that he "inherited" a rare central nervous system disorder known as Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease.

The disorder is progressive and only boys who have it show symptoms, including a delay in motor skill development. It's so rare that the Blakemores' doctor didn't suspect or diagnose it until Zachary was 14 months old, despite the fact that he couldn't hold up his head or grab things.

At that point, the Blakemores were told their son would probably never roll over, sit up or stand, and would only live until about age 15.

Blakemore knew her son had serious problems when she tried to put him into an infant swing and he was too floppy for it.

"I went home just devastated," Blakemore said. "Here was something I thought we could do that he would enjoy and we couldn't even have that."

When her sister-in-law urged her to try the playground in Washington, D.C., she didn't expect anything much different.

But the surface was rubberized so Zachary could use his walker. It had a wheelchair ramp to the top of the tallest slide and panels at the bottom.

The other children playing there accepted Zachary instead of staring or pulling away from him.

The Blakemores considered building a backyard playground, but it would be too expensive and cut out the social interaction they wanted Zachary to enjoy. They realized what they needed was a community playground that their son and other challenged youngsters could use.

As a recreation management major, Blakemore had taken classes on special education. She also had experience fund-rasing for the Special Olympics in Provo.

"I was definitely prepared (by the Lord), but I was really naive," she said. "I called five different cities in St. Charles County and every city I called had land if I had money."

Blakemore started working, although it isn't in her nature to push or ask for favors.

"One day I surprised my husband when he came through the door when I said, 'So I have land!' I don't think he took me seriously before that."

Lake St. Louis, which is about 50 miles west of St. Louis, had 16.9 acres to offer. The Development Disability Resource Board for St. Charles County kicked in $205,000. The local high school raised $25,000, the community held golf tournaments and hamburger events, and Blakemore spoke to numerous groups.

She worked with equipment vendors to help them understand the needs of a child in a wheelchair. Mothers with autistic children asked that she include fencing. Parents of children with cochlear implants asked for some tweaking to protect their kids.

LDS missionaries and the Young Women in the O'Fallon Ward, where Blakemore is Young Women president, helped on various building projects. The St. Louis North Stake held a "Make A Difference Day" dedicated to finishing the park.

Today, the Blakemores have a non-profit organization known as Unlimited Play, and the Hawk Ridge Park at 8392 Orf Road is a source of community pride.

It includes slides, swings, climbing apparatus and a spray area with fountains.

The Blakemores are being awarded the Inclusion Award from the Missouri Disabilities Council -- and Zachary is a star.

"He knows it," said his mother. "Someone will ask him why he's a star and he'll say 'because I have a playground.' "

Blakemore is talking with several other cities that want playgrounds like Zachary's, and a new city councilman ran on the promise that he'd bring Zachary's Playground to O'Fallon, where the Blakemores live.

"(Zachary) loves it," Blakemore said. "He can drive around all over. It's the one place where he has that freedom every child needs to have. Just having him have that little chance to be like other children, it's priceless for a mom."


After reading the article, I was determined to raise my own $800,000 and build a playground for Chloe and other special needs kiddos in our area. I googled 'accessible playground Utah' and found there are a few playgrounds similar to Zachary's playground in Utah, but none within an hour of where I live. Looks like I'm on another mission!

Other special needs parents, if you don't know where they are already, google and find the accessible playgrounds in your area. What a wonderful place to take your child to feel that 'delicious freedom' and it would also be a great way to meet other parents!