The forthcoming Inspiration Playground and Sensory Garden in Bellevue recently received an additional $1.5 million in state funding, bringing the project another step closer to implementation.
“We’re getting closer to having this become a reality for community,” said Rob Rose, who originated the idea for the Inspiration Playground.
The 2015-2017 capital budget passed early this month allocates $1 million for work set to begin this summer. An additional $500,000 was allocated through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.
Sen. Steve Litzow pushed for the state funding, saying in a release that “providing all children, regardless of ability, with an accessible outdoor space to recreate is important for needed physical activity as well as social and interpersonal development.”
The playground, public-private partnership between the Bellevue Rotary and the city of Bellevue, would be inclusive of children of all abilities. The addition of new play structures, a sensory garden and other features will expand the existing playground in the Bellevue Downtown Park to a total of 1.5 acres.
“One of the main things I learned, when you got people with and without disabilities together, you saw a perception change pretty quickly. Within just a really short period of time, 20-30 minutes, they’re forget their disabilities completely,” he said of the project’s benefits.
The Bellevue Rotary Club has been raising money for the playground for about two years, and hopes to break ground in spring 2016.
As the Reporter previously reported, Phase One construction for the Inspiration Playground was contingent on the Rotary raising $1.4 million.
Many organizations have donated to the cause over the last year. In March, the Seattle Seahawks donated $20,000 toward the purchase of a SwayFun Glider, which is a wheelchair-accessible swing that will be decked out in Seahawks colors. Microsoft also donated money towards the project.
“The Inspiration Playground will provide a wonderful play space for children of all abilities in our community,” said Rick Taylor, president of the Bellevue Rotary Club. “The Rotary Club of Bellevue is very pleased to see this project in the final capital budget.”