|In 1999, a non-profit, all volunteer organization named Right to Play, Inc. was formed in Shreveport. The sole purpose was to design and build the first Boundless Playground® in Louisiana. I was the founder and have continued to serve as president since the beginning.
I am very proud of what RTP and my volunteer Board of Directors have accomplished. By keeping administration costs less than $3000/year, the $636,000 we have raised so far, has gone directly into designing and building a playground that serves children and adults with special needs, as well as children without. The playground is named “Leaps and Bounds”. It is located inside A. C. Steere Park, but it is not called A. C. Steere Playground. RTP sponsored a contest open to children throughout the Shreveport-Bossier City area to name the playground. Joey Butler, Jr. had the winning name of Leaps and Bounds.
RTP hosted meetings with parents of special needs children, physical and occupational therapists, educators (both special ed as well as mainstream), artists, landscape specialists, members of SPAR and other people that were interested in building this playground. The general consensus of these adults was that the playground should meet the needs of all children, be safe and offer play situations that would invite children to challenge themselves. The parents of children with special needs had an additional request: They wanted more than one way for their children to get on and off the main play structure.
In addition, RTP conducted a Dreaming and Design Party attended by children with and without special needs. We discovered that the majority of the children wanted to be able to get up high, play in water and swing. The children with special needs wanted to be able to play “just like all the other kids”. We are please that the majority of needs of both groups have been met.
Individuals, businesses, foundations, civic clubs and associations have donated funds and materials. Volunteers physically worked to assemble and install the 5-12 year olds play structure, the swing sets, the toddler area, build flower beds and spread recycled shredded rubber surfacing. RTP was able to save over $100,000 by having community volunteers contribute their time and energy for this project.
Right to Play, Inc has successfully completed the Leaps and Bounds Playground. But our work is not finished. Officially, the City of Shreveport is responsible for the day to day upkeep of the Playground. SPAR has committed to doing the majority of the maintenance, but has requested we remain an integral part of Leaps and Bounds. Our role will be to make sure the playground is maintained to our high standards and to aid in the selection and purchase of any future playground equipment. There will always be equipment maintenance as well as landscaping that we will need to oversee. RTP will also continue to provide advice to others that seek to build an accessible, all-inclusive, barrier-free playground.
Donations are still needed to help us maintain this special playground. An individual or corporation making monetary or material contributions to Right to Play, Inc. is eligible to take an itemized deduction for their contribution on Schedule A of their 1040 return. They will also be allowed a credit on their Louisiana return equal to 50% of the total contribution (the credit is limited to $1,000 which equates to a $2,000 contribution). Please say yes to “adopting” Right to Play as an organization that you will help.
You may never personally know the children that will benefit the most from this special playground, but their smiles and their laughter will be because people like you care. This playground is a gift to the community. Please remember that you are never too old to play. Come swing on the swings, play in the water and slide down a slide. After all, you helped to build it and it belongs to all.