Growing Awareness, Inc. is a non-profit foundation that was established in May 2019 by a group of special educators. As educators, they observed that certain children with special needs, including those on the Autism spectrum, were unable to use most playground equipment. “Initially our dream was to build a play space in order to better meet the needs of children with diverse abilities. This dream is currently still in the process of being realized, however, the response by the South Williamsport community has been so positive we have decided to go bigger!”, said foundation president, Kristen Lambert.
Their mission is to increase awareness, create acceptance, and embrace abilities of those people with special needs. The groups aims to grow a community that inspires and embraces the differences of others. Ultimately this led to the holding of events in the community that are intended to increase awareness and raise money to help provide services and products to local youth and adults with disabilities.
Growing Awareness is currently raising funds to build an inclusive, sensory friendly play area located within the South Williamsport Park Complex. This project will cost approximately $200,000 and has a potential build date of spring 2021. The playground will ensure that children of all abilities are given the opportunity to engage in their right to play and will be able to play amongst their typically developing peers in a safe space.
The plan for the playground is to have poured in place rubber so that the playground is accessible for children who use wheelchairs. Some of the other proposed equipment included in the play space are: Sensory Arch, Sensory Dome, Sensory Cove, Merry Go All, Water Drop Seats, Expression Swing, Sensory Chair, Sensory Spinning Seat, Concert drums and chimes.
This playground will include and promote full inclusive play for all and will provide all children with an opportunity for physical, cognitive, communicative, social, and sensory development. An inclusive design increases the usability for children of all abilities. “There are many children in our community and surrounding areas who will benefit from this inclusive equipment. This will be the first of its kind in our area.”, said Lambert.
Growing Awareness is asking for individual donors and sponsors as well as corporate donors and sponsors to help raise funds so that they assist and support children and adults with disabilities within the community. The organization is 100% supported by generous donors in the community.
Upcoming events include:
74th annual Mummer’s Parade on October 19th at 2 p.m..
Monster Mash trunk or treating October 26th at the South Williamsport Park Complex from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
If you would like more information about Growing Awareness or would like to make a donation please call 570-360-5103 or email them at Growingawareness2019@gmail.com.