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In Ballston Spa's Kelley Park, name-calling is allowed

Plans for a community playground in Kelley Park in Ballston Spa are moving along faster than you can say swing set.

It seems only logical that a local, soon-to-be-built playground designed by children should be named by children. The naming contest, now under way, is for the playground being developed as a grassroots effort of Friends and Neighbors of Ballston Spa (FANS). The group of volunteers has been toiling for about three years to build a playground and family recreation area at Kelley Park, located in Ballston Spa adjacent to the municipal swimming pool.

Kelley Park now houses a small skateboard area, a pavilion with restrooms, a dog run, and a play structure with swings and a slide that is primarily used by small children. With a focus on inclusion, organizers are making the play equipment safe for people of all ages and abilities. The playground will include wheelchair swings, ground level activities and other accessible elements to encourage safe playtime for everyone.

"Our group values accessibility and parallel play situations in order to promote tolerance and 'play for all,'" said Angela McFarland, media coordinator for FANS. "We'll go beyond the minimum ADA requirements to do so. The nearest known wheelchair/therapeutic swing is in Glens Falls, 25 miles away."

Last fall, the village of Ballston Spa approved allocating some of the land for a public playground, and fundraising and promotional efforts sped up.

"The momentum is building, and we're very energized at this point," said McFarland.

Helping hands

FANS is a group focused on creativity, whether that means funding or finding ways to cut costs. Community groups, parents, home and business owners have come forward to offer everything from building materials to manpower.

The helping hands aren't just adult-sized: a primary component of the project is keeping kids in the mix. Last fall, a design day harnessed the creativity of Ballston Spa school district children to lay out their dream playground. Older students at the high school used Web design, CAD design and business promotion to experience aspects of "real-world" class projects to develop the playground.

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