With more than 800 Ankeny youth ages 5-18 having some type of physical, cognitive, or developmental special need and more than 5,000 in central Iowa that reach this threshold, the Miracle Park Project will serve a population that has been significantly underserved in the past. Many of these wonderful young people do not have the opportunity to play in an organized baseball/softball league or enjoy the thrill of playing with friends, parents, and siblings on a playground. Too often youth with special needs are relegated to sitting on the sidelines, lacking the same opportunities as their able-bodied friends, neighbors, classmates, and siblings. Furthermore they are unable to experience the recreation, socialization and sheer fun that comes from participating in sports activities and on play amenities. This lack of interaction and wholesome recreation often leads to other deficits such as feelings of isolation, obesity, a sense of worthlessness, an increased propensity for bullying, and further deterioration in health.
The Miracle Park Project provides children with limitations the opportunity to play baseball or softball on an organized team with a specially designed rubberized surfaced field, special game equipment, and a unique set of rules allowing each child to bat, run around the bases and score! The Park also provides a playground, known as The All-Inclusive Playground which will be state of the art, providing 16,000 square feet of surface area and accessible play amenities for children of all ages and abilities. The Miracle Park co-locates these two amenities on the northeast side of the current Hawkeye Park, and further provides accessible restrooms, concession facilities, shade, picnic areas and parking. When completed, the Miracle Park will be a first of its kind in Iowa!
The project has been blessed with tremendous success thus far. In just over six months of active fundraising, more than $850,000 has been contributed toward the $1,200,000 project goal. Special thanks go to our two Title Sponsors, Karl Chevrolet and John Deere Ankeny who contributed $200,000 and $240,000 respectively toward this great initiative.
A groundbreaking event will take place on Wednesday September 26 and construction will begin in October. Completing our remaining fundraising should allow the park to open in the fall of 2013. The Miracle Park Project is a partnership project of the City of Ankeny and Ankeny Kiwanis Club. For more information go to www.ankenymiracleleague.com or call Ryan Penning at the Parks & Recreation office at 963-3571.