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Raleigh needs place for all children to play, says mom

Dionne Lester and her husband are helping to lead up an effort to build a new playground at Laurel Hills Park. A fundraiser is scheduled this Sunday.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

A young child's social network is at the playground, says mom Dionne Lester. And that's why Raleigh needs a play place that provides access to children of all abilities.

Lester and her husband Darryl are helping to lead up an 18-month-old effort to tear down the 20-year-old All Children's Playground at Laurel Hills Park in north Raleigh and build a new one called Sassafras All Children's Playground.

"We believe all children should have a place with no limitations," said Lester, whose daughter has cerebral palsy.

I've written about Sassafras before. The ambitious plans call for a complete remake of the existing playground. The city originally planned for the old playground to be razed in September. But with fundraising slower than expected, the city plans to keep it up until there is enough money to replace it with something new.

So far, $546,000 has been raised, including a $450,000 in-kind contribution from the city of Raleigh, which includes some labor and supplies. The total project cost also has increased to $2 million as plans have been developed and costs better identified. The playground will take over more space than the current one and include advanced equipment and surfacing that will allow kids in a wheelchair or walker to play side-by-side with others.

Organizers will hold a special fundraising event from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 17 at Laurel Hills Park, 3808 Edwards Mill Rd. in north Raleigh near Crabtree Valley Mall. Hay Day at the Hills will include hayrides, inflatables, children's activities, main stage entertainment and more. Admission is free. There is a fee for some activities. All proceeds will benefit Sassafras.

Watch the video for more from Lester about how her family got involved and how you can help with the project.


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