The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation Issues $35,000 Challenge Grant for All-Abilities Playground Project

The All-Abilities Playground Project Committee is gearing up for construction in Missoula on a new universally-accessible playground, but they’re still looking for help with funding for Phase I and future phases.To keep the marker moving toward the goal, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation has issued a $35,000 challenge grant. Essentially, contributions will have twice the impact – the Foundation will match every dollar donated between June 1 and December 30, 2013, up to a maximum of $35,000.

The new playground brings the latest inclusive play technology to Missoula—including play features for children with sensory, cognitive and multiple disabilities – and expands on the vision of the Bonner Park All-Children’s wheelchair-accessible playground, built 25 years ago. Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler views this project as an exciting play space for all Missoula children. “It’s vitally important to create inclusive play spaces in our community, where people of all ages and abilities can play together. Playgrounds are where kids are most active, and where they learn creativity and problem-solving. This playground allows all children to gain the developmental and health benefits derived from unstructured play in an inclusive environment.”

All Abilities Park, Missoula, MT

The playground will be built within McCormick Park, a central and active Missoula location which already includes ADA-compliant restrooms, ample parking, an accessible fishing pond, Currents Aquatics Center, and paved river trails.

Future phases will include a stage designed in collaboration with Missoula Children’s Theater staff, high quality outdoor musical instruments, and a sensory garden where children can participate in gardening.

All-Abilities Park, Missoula, MT“Missoula is a place where we believe no one should be left out of the fun. Thanks to a generous community and the remarkable support of the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, all of our kids, their friends and families will be able to play at McCormick Park, no matter their abilities. We’re lucky to live in a place where instead of saying “that’s just the way it is,” we say “this is how it ought to be,” said Missoula Mayor John Engen.

Due to Missoula’s economic rebound and this summer’s busy construction season, Phase I construction, originally projected to be fall 2013, has been postponed until Spring, 2014. With the challenge grant from The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, organizers plan to reach their goals for Phase One and see kids playing at the park next summer. With additional support, additional phases can be added.

“Given our Foundation’s history of strongly supporting efforts to provide recreation and other opportunities for those with special needs, investing in the All-Abilities Playground was a perfect fit for us”, said Mike Halligan, Executive Director of The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.

To join in the effort by donating construction materials, services or funds, or to access site maps and other information, visit the All Abilities Playground website.

About The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation

The major philanthropic organization for The Washington Companies and the Washington family, The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation strives to better the human condition by supporting programs and services that give people the tools to enhance the quality of their lives and to benefit society as a whole. Since its inception in 1988, grants awarded or pledged by the Foundation and personal contributions of the Washington Family to charitable causes total more than $135 million. We have a 25-year history of support of efforts to ensure that all individuals have equal access to opportunities.