Promoting shoulder-to-shoulder play in Superior
Kenna Hermanson, 9, campaigns for city’s first all-inclusive, all-abilities playground
Kenna Hermanson had pretty much nailed the concept of inclusivity by the age of six.
“Kenna was in first grade, and she noticed that during recess, anyone who had physical limitations was hanging back on the sidewalk, outside the fence, kind of looking in at the playground and watching the rest of the kids play,” recalls her mother Kalee Hermanson.
“That kind of broke her heart. We talked about it at home, and she said: ‘Mom, there’s something we need to do about this.’ ”
Something is getting done—and it’s Kenna, now 9, who’s done much of the heavy lifting.
For more than two years, the young go-getter from Superior, Wisconsin has been drumming up support for an all-inclusive, all-abilities playground in the Twin Ports city.
Using the project name Webster Dream Park, the new structure would replace the existing playground in the 3.27-acre Webster Park in South Superior, and include:
- Special rubberized surfacing to accommodate wheelchairs;
- Inclusive zip lines, swings and merry-go-rounds;
- Sensory play equipment;
- Imaginative play spaces; and
- A sensory garden.
There will be no “special needs” area of the playground, since the park is designed to accommodate shoulder-to-shoulder play.
“The reception has been incredible,” says Kalee, who has helped Kenna present her project to the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities and the City of Superior Parks and Recreation Commission, and earn enthusiastic feedback.
The city agreed in December to fund $200,000 of the estimated $250,000 project from its capital improvement budget.
The remaining cost will be borne by private donations from individuals and corporations like Enbridge. We’re invested in improving quality of life in the communities near our operations and projects, like the Line 3 Replacement Project, and we’ve supported Webster Dream Park with a $10,000 donation.
Enbridge’s recent donations for community accessibility initiatives have included:
- Horses Spirits Healing, which offers therapeutic riding and equine-facilitated psychotherapy for military veterans in Billings, MT;
- The annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Oklahoma;
- An accessibility annex and youth programming for the Manitou Opera House Foundation in Manitou, MB;
- An inclusive playground equipment project for Westberry Elementary School in Kindersley, SK; and
- Arena accessibility projects in Oak Lake and Wawanesa, MB.
In Superior, Kalee Hermanson hopes Webster Dream Park will be ready in mid-September 2019.
“When we started looking into this, we found that there are no public playgrounds in Superior with an adaptable swing set,” she says. “Kenna is changing her community—and she’s doing it for her own peers.”
(TOP PHOTO: Kenna Hermanson and her mom Kalee, being interviewd by WDIO-TV in mid-March after Kenna became the youngest winner of the Relentless Badger Award.)