Leopard Battalion Helps Open Region’s First Fully-Accessible Playground

By Sgt. 1st Class Erick Ritterby
Chief, Public Affairs
4th Sustainment Brigade

TEMPLE, Texas — Soldiers from the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, teamed up with group members of Leadership Temple to help put some of the finishing touches on a unique park project, the first fully-accessible playground in Central Texas. The Lions Park playground is now open to the public, and it’s designed to be completely accessible to children of all ages who have mental or physical disabilities.

“We are extremely enthusiastic about this project,” said Ken Cicora, the director of the Temple Parks & Leisure Services. “We have always been committed to providing opportunities for fun and recreation for every member of our community.”

Several local groups and service organizations helped bring this progressive new playground to reality. Leadership Temple got the ball rolling from the concept stage. They wanted to develop a community project that would make a difference, and they got the idea from the Parks & Leisure Services.

“It was an idea that just instantly pulled at our heart-strings,” said Amanda Krcha, a member of Leadership Temple. “It’s so easy to underestimate the value of playing for a child’s physical and social development.”

“Envision a child in a wheelchair who has never been able to get down on the ground and play in the sand,” she said. “This new playground brings the sand to the child with such things as sand tables where a child in a wheelchair can just roll up and start playing alongside other kids.”

Once Leadership Temple realized the scope of the project, its members knew they needed to enlist some help from the 263rd Maintenance Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. The Wrangler Brigade troops volunteered their time and effort to help prepare the park for the public opening May 22.

“Leadership Temple and the Chamber of Commerce requested the help of the 263rd Maint. Co. because of our past volunteer work with them,” said 1st Lt. Stephen Brenner who helped mobilize the troops. “Our Soldiers gave their time and muscle selflessly to the community of Temple.”

The playground was made with a combination of engineered wood fiber and recycled surfacing to protect kids if they fall. To help keep costs as low as possible, the parks staff did most of the construction, and Leadership Temple worked on the landscaping with the help of the Leopard Battalion Soldiers.

“The Soldiers were eager to help and worked vigorously to give a presentation of their humanity,” said 1st Lt. Marcie Davis, the executive officer for the 263rd. “The lives that will be affected by this playground have given the Soldiers of 263rd hope for the future.”

The playground features three large interconnected decks, swings, a whirl, a see-saw, an elevated sandbox, a freestanding hammock, a race car spring rider, and more. Everything is designed with accessibility and inclusion in mind.

“This playground is important because it fills a need, not just in our community, but in the region,” said Cicora.

“We were so pleased to embrace an opportunity like this,” said Davis. “It was a chance to contribute to something so much larger than ourselves.”

“The 263rd is proud to have their Soldiers showing such humanitarian acts of kindness,” said Spc. Ross Breitkreutz. “Everyone should stop to render help to others because eventually, all good efforts have a return of goodness.”

(Spc. Ann Marie White from the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion contributed to this article)

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People can buy pickets to help complete the first fully-accessible playground in Central Texas. The pickets cost $20, and they are engraved with the names of the individuals who purchased them. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ann Marie White)

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A Soldier from the 263rd Maintenance Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, screws pickets to the fence that surrounds the first fully-accessible playground in Central Texas. It is going to take about 1,000 pickets to finish the project. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ann Marie White)

 

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To help keep costs as low as possible, Leadership Temple worked on the landscaping with the help of the Soldiers from the 263rd Maintenance Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, for the first fully-accessible playground in Central Texas. The finished picket fence will commemorate the community effort that helped make the playground possible. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ann Marie White)

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A Soldier from the 263rd Maintenance Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, helped finish the landscaping for the first fully-accessible playground in Central Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ann Marie White)

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Leadership Temple worked on the landscaping with the help of the Soldiers from the 263rd Maintenance Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, for the first fully-accessible playground in Central Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ann Marie White)

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Leadership Temple worked on the landscaping with the help of the Soldiers from the 263rd Maintenance Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, for the first fully-accessible playground in Central Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ann Marie White)

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The first fully-accessible playground in Central Texas opened to the public on May 22, and it’s designed to be completely accessible to children of all ages who have mental or physical disabilities. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ann Marie White)