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Groups rally for renovation of Kids Kingdom

MADISON – A consortium of civic clubs, community groups and volunteers are now in the fundraising phase to renovate Kids Kingdom.

On Dublin Park’s north campus, Kids Kingdom is open during daytime hours and free to use. The City of Madison Parks and Recreation Department maintains the property. Volunteers built Kids Kingdom during six days in October 1997.

“We want to harness that spirit (of volunteerism),” steering committee member Liz Brinton said. “Kids Kingdom was built BY the community FOR the community. We want to bring everyone together . . . and make Kids Kingdom the best it possibly can be.”

Organizers hope to finish fundraising this fall. Early 2022 is the tentative date for groundbreaking.

Plans call not only for upgrades to the site but also universal, inclusive enhancements to allow all children the opportunity to play, learn and grow together. Madison Disability Advocacy Board hopes the play-space will accommodate the needs of all children, especially in developing social and motor skills.

To volunteer, visit gobuildakingdom.com and click “LET US KNOW HOW YOU CAN HELP” to complete a brief survey. The site explains rebuilding plans, ways to contribute, corporate involvement, comments on new equipment and periodic project updates.

The playground design has several proposed features:

* Sensory elements — For auditory, visual or tactile experiences.

* Expression swings — Face-to-face swings with eye-to-eye setup can encourage emotional bonding between a child and an adult.

* Rover or car – Accommodates wheelchairs but for use by everyone.

* Wide stairways – Using low angles for easy mobility.

* Built-in level changes – Allowing children to go around, through, under and over equipment.

* Rubberized ground surface – For safer walking and playing.

* Adaptive-friendly zipline – Giving thrills by innovative design.

The GameTime division of the award-winning Playcore company will design the playground. GameTime manufactures components in Fort Payne.

The combined effort involves Parks and Recreation, Madison Visionary Partners, Madison City Disability Advocacy Board, Madison Chamber of Commerce, E.WE Foundation, Rotary Club of Madison and Madison City Schools.

Steering committee members are chairperson Matt McLellan, Kory Alfred, Jenny Mill Creek, Sarita Edwards, Stephenie Walker, John O’Donnell, Lee Shaw, Steve Smith, Maura Wroblewski, Holly Waite and Brinton.

To-date, fundraising has succeeded in collecting $125,000 from one generous donation, along with a few grants. The complete renovation will cost $690,000. Fundraising events will continue, like the gathering that Madison Visionary Partners co-hosted at Yellowhammer Brewery on May 15.

To donate, visit mvpmadison.org, and click the “Kids Kingdom” menu. On the Kids Kingdom page, click “Donate Here.”

Kids Kingdom’s address is 8324 Old Madison Pike. For more information, call 256-348-4969, email gobuildakingdom@gmail.com or liz.brinton@mvpmadison.org or visit gobuildakingdom.com, mvpmadison.org/kids-kingdom or Twitter #GoBuildAKingdom.

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