Dec 12, 2023
By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
Equipment that can be played on, climbed on, explored, and even quiet spaces for when kids need a break. This describes a new inclusive park, centrally located in Grayson County, which will welcome kids into a zone of fun, safety, and memory-making.
The park will be a place where kids who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, autistic, or physically disabled can meet with friends and families. Wheelchairs can roll easily over the poured-in-rubber base, which also provides a cushioned landing for accidental tumbles. The playground equipment will be within everyone’s reach.
Two Lions Clubs in Sherman partnered with the City of Sherman Parks Department to propose the inclusive playground addition to the Pecan Grove East Park. The Sherman Evening Lions Club and the Sherman Noon Lions Clubs formed a partnership in the name of “The Sherman Lions Clubs” to apply for a matching grant from the Lions Clubs International Foundation as well as a humanitarian grant from the Texas Lions Foundation.
The Sherman Lions Clubs’ matching funds for those grants came in part through the Texoma Health Foundation (THF).
“The funds from THF were crucial in meeting the amount to be able to receive these matching grants,” says Marty Richardson.
Marty has been a member of the Noon Sherman Lion Club for over 25 years. Her dad was a Lion, and as a nurse and a nursing professor at Grayson College, Marty has a heart for serving in the health arenas. She admires the work the Lions Club does.
“I like to be involved in the community,” Marty says. “I’m a service-minded person, like everyone in the club.”
The Noon Sherman Lion Club existed almost from the beginning of Lions Club’s history dating back to 1917. The Lions Club is the largest service organization in the world with 1.4 million members that serve in over 45,000 clubs in over 200 countries. Their humanitarian work includes diabetes, vision, hunger, environment, and childhood cancer.
In reviewing needs in their own area, the Sherman Lions Clubs found that 1271 students are enrolled in Special Education classes in their community—about 16.5% of the total enrollment. There are 300 additional students under evaluation, and the population of Grayson County continues to explode.
The Sherman Lions Clubs estimates the new inclusive park will serve several thousand children with disabilities as well as parents, grandparents, friends, and siblings.
“Play is so important to emotional and physical health,” Marty says. “So many special needs kiddos feel left out. With this park, they will be able to play with friends and siblings, develop friendships and make wonderful memories. It will be for everyone to come and play.”