John Sevier Inclusive Playground now open

The playground is for any and all children to be able to play.
New playground for any and all children to play at in Maryville.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:36 PM EDT
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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The John Sevier Inclusive Playground is finally open in Maryville. It’s a place where all children can play and parents can have some piece of mind.

Kathy McGee, is the woman behind the idea of the playground. She knew all too well the feeling of watching your child miss out on things because of their disability.

“Well when our son was about 2 or 3 years old he has down syndrome and he did our flag ceremony for us today, he is now 35 and he’s an Eagle Scout and we’re very proud of him and all the developments that he has done, but at his age he couldn’t do this. We didn’t have a playground like this,” said McGee.

She said a playground is a place that is supposed to be fun but it just wasn’t for them because of all they were having to do and worry about.

“So it was up to my husband and I to squeeze into things or lift or carry or whatever it was a workout for us,” said McGee.

She did her research on inclusive playgrounds across the county and in Tennessee and took her ideas to the city of Maryville to make it a reality for all kids. They worked with several companies to determine the best one to find all the parts for the playground.

“That’s why we call it an inclusive playground, this is where everybody plays. There are ramps for kids that have a hard time moving or might be in a wheel chair. There are elements of musical chimes so they’re doing the sense of hearing. We have touchy feely stuff, I call it for sensory,” said McGee.

Phase one of the playground, which is for ages 5 to 12, was finished in fall of 2021, but phase two, the area for ages 2 to 5, had it’s grand opening Friday. The playground has a rubber floor so, its safer in case kids fall, a fenced in area for the parents piece of mind, and a merry-go-all, a new version of a merry-go-round. The two areas are connected so if parents have more than one child they can easily watch them all at the same time.

“We in the meantime spoke to physical therapist, occupational therapist, teachers, parents, grandparents and said what do you need so that it’s inclusive and all kids can play,” said McGee.

The inclusive playground is located by John Sevier Elementary School in Maryville.