Health & Wellness

New Union County “Level the Playing Field” Grants Aim to Improve Playground Access for Children and Families

561cf3bb33b2173fa0de_Mattano_Playground_Opening_2016.jpg
Freeholders Sergio Granados, Linda Carter, Christopher Hudak, Bette Jane Kowalski, Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, Manager Alfred Faella, members of the Elizabeth City Council and Board of Education. Credits: Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union
561cf3bb33b2173fa0de_Mattano_Playground_Opening_2016.jpg

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has announced “Level the Playing Field,” a new grant program that provides funding for local playground upgrades that enable children with disabilities to enjoy healthy outdoor activities with their families, friends, and neighbors.

All 21 municipalities in Union County are eligible to apply for the program, which will provide a total of $300,000 in grants through the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. The grants can go to add accessible elements to existing playgrounds or establish new playgrounds with accessible elements.

Level the Playing Field 2017 is designed to assist in meeting the needs of the special needs populations throughout the County of Union.  The County of Union has accessible playgrounds and accessible playground elements throughout the county park system. Helping to address this on the municipal level will propel our county forward as a model for others throughout the State of New Jersey,” said Freeholder Vice Chairman Sergio Granados, who chairs the Trust Fund Committee and is the liaison to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Sign Up for E-News

“Inclusive, accessible playgrounds benefit everyone. They offer all the opportunity to play alongside one another and help to create a sense of community. People with disabilities enjoy the benefits of active play, including social skills and overall health.  At the same time, people without disabilities learn valuable lessons about the world, including that everyone has similarities and differences,” Granados explained. “Every person should be able to enjoy a playground in or near their neighborhood that takes away the barriers of exclusion, both physical and social, providing a ‘sensory rich’ experience for all.”

“The new grant program reaffirms the Freeholder Board’s commitment to inclusion and equality for all County residents,” Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen said. “By helping to make County parks and local playgrounds more accessible, we encourage more families to practice healthier habits and form closer bonds with friends and neighbors.”

One recent highlight of accessibility improvements in County parks is last year’s opening of the first fully accessible playground in Union County. Located in Mattano Park in Elizabeth, the new playground features a Merry-Go-All, Roller Slide, Roller Table, Swing Seats and more.

The Freeholder Board also broke ground today, October 20, for the construction of Union County’s first all-inclusive Sensory Trial. The new 0.3-mile loop in the Watchung Reservation includes a braille trail with rope guides and nature-themed play structures among other elements designed for the enjoyment of all visitors to the park.

Applications for Level the Playing Field were mailed to each of the 21 municipalities today. The deadline for submission is December 19.

The new grant initiative complements ongoing County recreation and enrichment programs for people with physical and cognitive impairments, including the Sensory Friendly Theatre series sponsored by the Freeholder Board at the Union County Performing Arts Center, and programs for people with disabilities at the County’s Ulrich Swimming Pool, Watchung Stables and Trailside Nature and Science Center.

The Freeholder Board also provides funding for inclusive events including annual fishing derbies, an ice skating social, summer carnival and barn dance, as well as programs for popular activities including golf, karate, yoga, and volleyball.

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

Connect with Union County on social media.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Springfield

Rahway Mayor Giacobbe to Attend Grand Opening of First Wawa Store in Rahway; Free Coffee Offered Through July 16

July 12, 2018

RAHWAY, NJ - Rahway Mayor Raymond A. Giacobbe will be on hand to cut the ribbon at 10 a.m. Thursday. July 12, for the new Wawa store's grand opening at 280 St. Georges Avenue in Rahway.

The 24-hour Wawa store will officially open at 8 a.m. on Thursday, with the grand opening ceremonies to follow. Free coffee will be offered at the store through July 16. Wally Goose, the ...

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 18, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

3rd Annual Meadowlands BBQ Battle a Smokin’ Success

July 19, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Seven competitors battled it out at Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment's 3rd Annual BBQ Battle on Saturday, July 14, all vying for $2,000 in prizes and most importantly, bragging rights. 

The BBQ categories of best Ribs, Brisket, Chicken, and Pulled Pork, came with a $500 prize to the winner of each category. A panel of five judges conducted a blind ...

Meadowbrook Country Day Camp to Hold "Summer Splash 2018" Open House Event on Saturday, July 28

July 20, 2018

LONG VALLEY, NJ - Looking for a day camp for the kids for next year? Those interested in visiting Meadowbrook Country Day Camp are invited to attend “Summer Splash 2018,” on Saturday, July 28, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The camp is located at 73 East Valley Brook Road, in Long Valley, NJ. The Rain Date is Sunday, July 29.

“Seeing camp during the summer is a perfect way ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_d1340f5bef18abdd505d_press_graphic_-_july_20_2018_-_flamenco_nights___gw

Fri, July 20, 7:30 PM

Galeria West Art & Music Gallery, Westfield

Flamenco Nights @ Galeria West: A Special Gipsy ...

Arts & Entertainment

Mon, July 23, 7:45 AM

17 Kent Place Boulevard, Summit

Monday Morning Yoga

Health & Wellness

Wed, July 25, 6:00 PM

JCC of Central NJ, Scotch Plains

The JCC’s Barracudas Swim Team Meet the Coaches ...

Sports