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Variety unveils plans for all-inclusive playground honoring Ashley Okland

Posted September 05, 2013 in Web Exclusives

DES MOINES, Iowa – Variety – the Children’s Charity of Iowa is proud to announce it is planning to begin work on a community project that will benefit children with cognitive and physical disabilities and memorialize past board member Ashley Okland who was killed in April of 2011. The Ashley Okland Star Playground will be an all-inclusive playground located within Ewing Park on the southeast side of Des Moines.

Des Moines Park and Recreation is responsible for 72 park locations, but none of the existing locations has the adaptations for children with special needs this new project will provide. The Ashley Okland Star Playground will cater to special needs children by featuring adapted playground equipment; however, the playground will be built for people of all ages and abilities, which is critical for healthy physical activity and learning together. Variety has selected Cunningham Recreation, a Charlotte, N.C.-based company specialized in all-inclusive playgrounds nationwide, as its partner for the project.

“Ashley was a person who energetically enjoyed living life to its fullest and was happiest when others were doing the same. It is our hope the Star Playground will allow her spirit and energy to live on through the children who play there,” said Sheri McMichael, executive director for Variety – the Children’s Charity.

Variety will present final plans to the Des Moines City Council on Monday (Sept. 9). Pending approval, Variety will launch its fundraising campaign immediately and is seeking both financial contributions as well as in-kind support. Variety is proud to announce the Downtown Kiwanis and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield have already confirmed their support. Anyone interested in supporting the Ashley Okland Star Playground can visit, email or call Variety – the Children’s Charity at (515) 243-4660.


About Variety – the Children’s Charity
Variety – the Children’s Charity of Iowa is part of an international organization dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged, at-risk and special needs children. Variety Iowa was founded in 1937. Since the inception of the telethon, in 1975, Variety has raised more than $90 million through the annual telethon and other fundraisers. Due to the generous support of individuals and the corporate community, Variety has provided funding for capital projects, essential medical equipment and special programs to more than 300 charities throughout Iowa and neighboring states. In addition, more than 280 Sunshine Coaches are transporting kids across the state.

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