On Tuesday, September 24, the City of Minneola proudly showed off its new, ADA compliant playground at the Minneola Trailhead Park. The South Lake Chamber of Commerce hosted the ribbon cutting.

Kandi Alexander, a special needs advocate, was one of the first people to express the need for an ADA compliant playground in the community and explained to the TABLET how the vision of an adaptable park became reality.

TABLET Speaks with Kandi Alexander

TABLET:  Kandi, explain how the City of Minneola Trailhead Park Playground became ADA Compliant.

Councilmember Kelly Price and Minneola Mayor Pat Kelley

Kandi: I heard that the Minneola Trailhead Park was being revamped and new areas developed.  I went before Minneola City Council to share information sent to me about a wheelchair swing that was being fundraised for the park in Leesburg.  By the end of the meeting, the idea came together and the council approved funding for a project to install adaptive playground equipment.

TABLET: It has been an incredible and worthy effort. The city has truly rallied around the project. Minneola Councilmember Kelly Price is acknowledged as the city’s leading advocate of this project;  Mayor Pat Kelley and City Council have been very supportive, and City Manager Mark Johnson has been committed to proudly bringing this project to fruition.  Is there any additional people who deserve special recognition?

Minneola City Manager Mark Johnson proudly looks on while special needs child enjoys the playground.

Kandi – The Calloway Family. Kristy was the one who looked for equipment best designed to actually accommodate the children in wheelchairs.  Kristy and I talked with the city about the best and most effective ways to support the families coming to the park.

TABLET: All children should play alongside their peers and playmates.

Kandi: Agreed. Children should play alongside their siblings and peers and most importantly, the equipment should be designed to allow wheelchair access to the equipment.

TABLET – Minneola Trailhead Park is an inspiration to all. Tell us how the park has become a benchmark for other communities.

Kandi:  In our entire county, we know of no other park in which the city fully funded the project for their city residents like Minneola has done. The city took the advice from special needs parents who completely understood exactly what was needed. I know for a fact that Mt Dora City and Recreation are interested in what was accomplished.  I have been in contact with local advocate families in that area. I also know that an advocate in Polk county reached out because their city council wanted information.

When we shared pictures and posts, we actually had a commissioner from Volusia county share the information we posted to their city pages asking the question. “Why is this not done here too?”

Tablet: What is your expectation for the park?

Kandi: I would hope this park with the new adaptive playground will be an inspiration to follow. I am proud that we could be a part of making this happen by bringing awareness to the forefront. I am extremely grateful to the Calloway family who worked on this project to make sure children can play together with their friends and family and peers.

We encourage families of all special needs to enjoy the park and share in the fun.

TABLET: Minneola Trailhead Park, located at 315 Madison Street, is a seventeen-acre park which presently includes a dog park, basketball court, ball field, ADA compliant playground and fitness zone.

Coming soon –  a skateboard park, splash park and bike trail.

Congratulations to the City of Minneola for listening and accomplishing great things!