Harmony Park Project aims to convert playground into inclusive space

Initial plans to convert the Rollingbrook Park playground into an inclusive area include a soft surface and fencing. (Photo Facebook/Harmony Park Project)


By Greg Halbleib

BLOOMINGTON – Local non-profit groups are working with the City of Bloomington to develop an inclusive playground at a south side park.

The Harmony Park Project was formed to replace the playground equipment at Rollingbrook Park on Hershey Road. One of the organizers, Tyson Mohr, said the goal is to include playground items for all children, including those with physical limitations. He listed one playground staple that has been modified elsewhere.

“A really large teeter-totter that I think will fit 20 different people and fit a wheelchair on it,” Mohr said. “I went to a park in another city that had one of these. Kids are climbing all over it, children of all abilities playing together, teeter-tottering back and forth.”

Organizer Corin Chapman said another item planned is a merry-go-wall.

“It’s very much a merry-go-round like you would have seen, but it has backs to the chairs so that children who might not have full core strength will be able to use it,” Chapman said. “You can also insert a five-point harness so that children would be fully protected.”

Mohr said a soft yet stable surface is also planned.

The project is a joint effort between Marcfirst, Autism McLean, Max’s Miles Foundation and the Bloomington-Normal Jaycees. Total cost is estimated at $350,000, with $85,000 from the city, $25,000 from a State Farm Neighborhood grant and the rest from private and corporate donations. Fundraising will continue through 2018.

Information can be found on the Harmony Park Project Facebook page.

PODCAST: Listen here to an interview with Chapman and Mohr and WJBC’s Greg Halbleib.

Greg Halbleib can be reached at greg@wjbc.com.


Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…

Everyone counts and you could make the difference

By Mike Matejka How many federal dollars will there be for road repairs?  To feed hungry families?  How many Illinois representatives will there be in Congress?  Are Illinois communities going to get their fair share? There’s only one way to ensure our community gets treated properly – answer the census. The every ten year U.S. census,…