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Chanute installing sensory playground - KOAM TV 7

Chanute installing sensory playground

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CHANUTE, KANSAS -

Several groups in Chanute are raising funds for a sensory playground going in at Katy Park.

The sensory playground will look like a normal park with swings and slides, but will feature sensory-friendly elements soothing to children with sensory-processing issues and disabilities.

"If you walk up to it, any child is just going to see a park toy. There are features built into it, there are things back behind some of the pieces. If a child is feeling a little overwhelmed and they want to hide back behind, there are things for them to do back in there," Debbie Shields, of the city of Chanute park advisory board said.

The local group "Autism Hope for Families" approached the city with the idea.

"Our daughter doesn't swing well in a regular swing, so they call it like a rollercoaster swing that has the harness. That will help her to be able to stay in her seat and be able to swing and get the sensory input that she needs," co-founder of Autism Hope for Families, Nikki Jacobs said.

The park costs around $200,000 and the groups raising funds for the park are on an August 1 deadline so they can use the help of a grant to match their goal of $100,000. Young Professionals of Chanute is hosting a trivia night on Thursday at central park pavilion. Registration begins at 5:30, the game begins at 6:15 and the winner gets a cash prize. Otherwise, proceeds benefit the park.

Groups involved have currently raised around $68,000.

Aimee Thompson with the young professionals group has a son with sensory-processing issues.

 "You know there's just times I've felt so sorry for him when it's been very loud and there's a lot of people around.  You know you can just see it in his eyes that it's really something that's a struggle for him so a piece of equipment like this, a park like this is just going to be so beneficial to him and so many other kids in our community," Thompson said.

Many children in the Chanute area fall on the autism spectrum. Nationally, one in 68 children fall on the autism spectrum.

"Chanute takes care of their children. They have always been generous with the children of Chanute and this is just one more effort to make sure every child has an opportunity to play and have fun," Shields said.

A golf tournament will take place July 30 at Stone Creek Golf club hosted by Autism Hope for Families as a last-chance effort to raise funds.

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