The Town of Thurmont and the Catoctin Area Civitan Club hosted a dedication of the East End Park Inclusive Playground on Saturday, June 17, 2017. Community members, club members, and town and county representatives gathered at the playground, where Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird gave a welcome and announced the completion of Phase I of the playground’s installation. He also announced that funds for Phase II are already in place, as well as funds for an ADA-compliant restroom in an existing building at the playground.

Catoctin Area Civitan Club members attended a town meeting and proposed the project, which took about a year and a half to complete to this point. The playground provides a space where physically and developmentally challenged individuals, as well as those without physical challenges, can have fun and play in the same place. Club President Ginger Malone explained that the Civitans help people with physical and intellectual disabilities. The national organization is celebrating its 100th year of service this year. Malone thanked the team who made the inclusive playground project come to life, including Jeff Barber, president of Playground Specialists, the company that installed the playground.

The totally inclusive playground is one of the first for the Frederick County region. Phases II and III will add a glider for children in wheelchairs, a cocoon for children with autism, and a music station. Malone thanked the residents of Thurmont for supporting the Civitans with fundraising from the blue toilet campaign. “If you get the traveling blue toilet, please make sure the recipients support it,” said Malone.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner had a good time trying out the zip line. Gardner said, “I think this is a great accomplishment for all of you, because it’s really important to the children of this town and Frederick County.” She presented a certificate of appreciation to the Catoctin Area Civitan Club for taking the lead to find the funding.

Mayor Kinnaird prompted Jeff Barber to express how great the town of Thurmont is. Barber explained that Phases II and III will tie in the pavilion with the playground. Barber explained, “Inclusive playgrounds feature pieces of equipment that are accessible to everyone and can be accessed at transfer height. So both challenged individuals and non-challenged individuals can play together.” He added, “The playground pieces need to be ‘cool’ enough to be fun for everyone. This will actually be one of the coolest and best playgrounds in all of Frederick County for all kids.”

Julie DeRoner, a Thurmont resident, is a parent of children with disabilities and works with children with disabilities at the Frederick County Developmental Center. She expressed that the playground, “is an excellent opportunity for inclusive play.”

Town of Thurmont officials, Frederick County officials, and members of the Catoctin Civitan Club are shown cutting the ribbon for the official opening of the Inclusive Playground in Thurmont.

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