Inclusive playground for children with disabilities opens in Oakland County

For months, outdoor playground equipment has been closed due to coronavirus, but for some children, playgrounds have always been inaccessible.
For months, outdoor playground equipment has been closed due to coronavirus, but for some children, playgrounds have always been inaccessible.

COMMERCE CHARTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. – For months, outdoor playground equipment has been closed due to coronavirus, but for some children, playgrounds have always been inaccessible.

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An inclusive playground in Commerce Township is a project Detroit News personality Stephen Clark has spent years raising money to build.

Clark’s granddaughter uses a wheelchair and the new park is the largest ramped playground in the Midwest. More than a million dollars were raised to build the accessible wonderland.

Named after Clark’s granddaughter, Scarlet’s Playground is groundbreaking for children with special needs.

“I wish there was something like this when I was a boy,” said Vic Doucette. “I have cerebral palsy, grew up in leg braces didn’t fit i /and being scorekeeper isn’t same as being a pitcher.”

Now every child has a chance to be a kid.

It’s been a long road to get here. From an early winter that delayed construction, to a pandemic that shut down parks. In May, a teen used bolt cutters and destroyed equipment, causing thousands of dollars of damage.

Against all odds, the park persevered.

“I keep telling Scarlet, ‘In 20 years the park will still be there. They won’t know who you are are, but they will thank you,’” Clark said.

50 engineers from GM volunteered to design the playground, complete with two floors of ramps and accessible equipment.

More information on Scarlet’s Playground can be found on its official website here.


About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.