A Playground for Fort Scott

Community Champion Event:

Roast and Toast to Frank Halsey

 “Build a new playground at the Mercy of Frank Halsey”

Presented by The Healthy Bourbon County Action Team

Underwritten by Janet Irby Braun & Family

Time is running out to get your tickets to the Community Champion Event on Saturday, August 19, at Liberty Theatre! You can purchase tickets at FortScott.com or at the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce. The deadline is August 15.  You can expect an evening full of fun and entertainment for your $50 ticket. The social hour starts at 6 p.m. with a cash bar and background music provided by Kansas City’s Private Stock. This will give attendees the opportunity to have pictures taken and buy a raffle ticket for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate to Tailwind Cyclists! Raffle tickets are only $3 each or four for $10. Crooner’s Lounge will provide a buffet of heavy hors d’oeuvres at 7 p.m. followed by entertainment and comedy in the form of a roast co-hosted by Larry Gazaway and Gregg Motley. Attendees are welcome to stay for music and dancing with Private Stock until 11 p.m.

Frank Halsey has been selected as the first Community Champion due to his commitment to the Gunn Park Trails. Returning home from a bike ride in another town, Frank was determined to build a trail for himself and his friends to enjoy. From this simple idea came a project several years in the making. Frank did not take, ‘No,’ for an answer. He also didn’t take cease and desist orders, requests from the City, or opposition of any kind. Thanks to his efforts, Gunn Park now boasts 6.5 miles of biking and hiking trails and the growth continues today. The trails added more life to this century-old park with several annual events attracting visitors from other states to ride the Gunn Park Trails.

One hundred percent of ticket and raffle sales will be going to fund a Multi-Sensory Playground at Ellis Park. Your community members, neighbors and friends will all benefit from the inclusive playground. One such family, The Walkers, has told the story of how a playground will benefit their family:

No one wants to be excluded from fun. Even more important, no parent wants their child to be an observer to play instead of a participant.

Play is a child’s work and it is very important for their development. Children learn about themselves, the people around them, their environment and their community through play. Our family loves the community we live in. Fort Scott is an amazing place! We would love to see all children have the ability to thrive within this community. 

We used to take for granted the opportunity to take our children to the park to play on the playground, that is, until our youngest child, Ella, was born. Ella was born with a birth defect called Spina Bifida. This is where her spine did not form completely so she has spinal cord damage. There are varying degrees to this birth defect. This affects Ella’s ability to walk, amongst other things. She requires assistance by the use of braces on her feet, crutches, a walker or the support of another person for distances and on uneven surfaces; while many persons with this disability require the use of a wheelchair.

Ella struggles in some way or another at most of the parks in town, mainly with unstable surfaces or inability to climb. Most playgrounds have rocks, mulch and/or hills. Often ones with smooth surfaces are not accessible by wheelchair or walker. For safety, smooth surfaces and ground level equipment are essential to all those with this need in mind.

Her challenges are increasing as she becomes older. Ella has turned four years old and is becoming heavier for us to carry. Crawling, her preferred method of travel, is not a safe alternative for her on the playground. Her peers are now walking most of the time, so she is viewed as a baby to many children her own age, and even children younger. Her feelings are often hurt when her peers view her as something less than themselves.

We always welcome questions from children as well as adults as to why Ella walks the way she does, what her equipment and braces are for, and any other questions they might have. By giving Ella the mobility she needs she will learn how to be an active member of society.

Play environments designed to be fair allow everyone to participate as equitably and as independently as possible with their siblings, neighbors, caregivers and friends. (inclusiveplaygrounds.com)  It is a positive thing to have playgrounds for children of all abilities—physically able and disabled—to play together. By being inclusive to all children, the able-bodied children learn how to interact with disabled children, as well as the other way around.

This gives all children the opportunity to grow confidence in their abilities—socially and physically. All four of our children have played on inclusive playgrounds and enjoyed all of the equipment together, without realizing it was intended for less able-bodied persons.

God creates each of us with different purpose, intent and design; but He loves us all equally! We know that in the future there will be others that will have the same, or more needs for these opportunities in our community. Placing inclusive playgrounds in our community will have a positive impact for generations to come.

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