Updates to Lake Meade Playground Serves Many
REGION’S FIRST INCLUSIVE PLAYGROUND OPENS
Playground expansion funded by the Obici Healthcare Foundation
Lake Meade Inclusive Playground is officially opened. This is Suffolk’s first playground that is designed to serve the physical, social, sensory, cognitive and emotional needs of children of all abilities and provide the opportunity for building common ground between children with disabilities and children without. This project was partially funded by the Obici Healthcare Foundation’s new Healthy Spaces grant program.
The Foundation opened its Healthy Spaces grant opportunity earlier this year to fund projects that seek to improve people’s access to physical activity and healthy eating. Healthy Spaces are one-year, one-time grants of up to $50,000 for community projects such as playgrounds, walking trails, community gardens and farmers’ markets that make it easier for people to make healthier choices that have the potential to improve their health.
The City of Suffolk was awarded its Healthy Spaces grant in early 2019 to help update the existing Lake Meade Playground with new and important aspects such as poured-in-place safety surfacing to allow people with limited physical ability and various disabilities to easily play together on the equipment. The new and inclusive equipment includes Merry-Go-All, accessible swings, benches, additional walkways and landscaping all connected with elevated ramps for ease of access. Sidewalks connect an existing walking trail to the equipment and connections will be made between the new and the old play areas.
Having safe, accessible places for children and families to play is an important component in the development of active and healthy children. The new equipment is expected to engage more active play between children and their adult caregivers, especially for those with disabilities.
Lake Meade Park is a 68-acre community park that provides a variety of recreational amenities, including 2 miles of trails, a large playground, picnic pavilions, a skate park, tennis courts, a dog park, restrooms and convenient, accessible parking. The park is visited by thousands of users each month. The addition of the Lake Meade Inclusive Playground is expected to allow greater accessibility for the community.
The Healthy Spaces program is part of the Foundation’s Prevention priority area, which supports early intervention to prevent disease and promote healthy behaviors. This prevention approach is concentrated on starting with children and promoting healthy behaviors among all age groups.
“Healthy behaviors such as physical activity and healthy eating can prevent chronic diseases, control weight, improve mood, boost energy, and improve longevity and well-being,” said CEO Annette Beuchler. “We applaud communities like the City of Suffolk who are coming up with solutions for improving the overall health of their residents.”
In addition to the Healthy Spaces grant program, the Foundation also funds a Healthy Behaviors grant program promoting physical activity and healthy eating throughout Western Tidewater. Healthy Behaviors grants offer three levels of funding culminating in a $300,000, three-year implementation opportunity. Healthy Spaces and Healthy Behaviors grant proposals are being accepted through July 9. For more information, visit www.obicihcf.org.
About the Obici Healthcare Foundation: The Obici Healthcare Foundation is a private foundation established in 2006 from the sale of Louise Obici Memorial Hospital to Sentara Healthcare. Since its inception the Foundation has awarded over $48.6 million in grant funding.