Twelve-year old Kristin Holcombe enjoys gymnastics. Twelve-year Helen Rittelmeyer enjoys bird-watching. The two have varied interests but what they share in common are sisters with special needs. Playtime at the playground can be frustrating.
"About the only thing she can do is the animals that rock back and forth and the slide," said Helen.
"I wanted her to have a place where she could play safely and along side everyone else and also have an easy time getting on the equipment," said Kristin.
The concerns for their sisters motivated Kristin and Helen to launch a campaign to help raise money in support of Kids Together, a playground for all children whatever their mental or physical ability.
The proposed site for the Kids Together playground is in Wellington Park along Cary Parkway. In order to pull this off successfully, Kristin and Helen will have to help raise $500,000.
"Everyone will own this playground and everyone will be able to play," says Kids Together President Marla Dorrel. The proposed park is an expansion of Raleigh's wheelchair accessible All Childrens' Playground but will have subtle improvements.
"Instead of concentrating on wheelchair accessibility, we're looking across the broad range of special needs that children have," says Dorrel.
Helen and Kristin say the new playground will break down barriers.
"People will have a little more respect for people who have special needs,"
"I think the Kids Together will help them learn at an early age that handicapped people are just as nice as the rest of us," says
Kids Together is still seeking donations. Kids Together hopes to break ground in September. The playground is scheduled to be open in time for the World Games of the Special Olympics.