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Metro Parks Newsroom

Shawnee DREAM Playground Sprayground Opens

Monday June 27, 2011

Metro Parks Teams With DREAM Foundation/Olmsted Parks Conservancy to Open New Playground/Sprayground

Mayor Fischer Celebrates Accessible Facility For Children Of All Abilities In Shawnee Park

Several years ago, Mitchell Barnes expressed the wish to be able to play alongside other kids his age in a playground. However, his condition – Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – made going to a conventional playground difficult, if not impossible.

Partly as a result of this wish, Mitchell and his parents, Mitch and Meredith Barnes, founded the DREAM (Duchenne Research, Education and Miracle) Foundation of Kentucky, to raise funds and build awareness about the disease. The DREAM Foundation, in collaboration with the Olmsted Parks Conservancy , Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton and Metro Parks, opened a new playground/sprayground at Shawnee Park. The “play together” playground is the third playground in the public-private partnership between the groups.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this collaboration and to see this dream come true,” Mitch Barnes said. “I can’t express what it means to see all these groups working together for one common goal: to enhance the quality of life for all children, disabled and not.”

The partnership has resulted in the construction of playgrounds in Des Pres Park in eastern Louisville and at Iroquois Park in Louisville’s south end. The Shawnee Park playground/sprayground is modeled after the one that opened in Iroquois Park in 2007. The sprayground replicates a steamboat on the Ohio River with multiple water spray jets and misting devices. The playground is a multi-dimensional area complete with swingsets, slides and shaded areas.

“It’s an honor for us to partner with the DREAM Foundation and the Olmsted Parks Conservancy on this project, and to continue this relationship,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “The commitment of the Barnes Family to making this community a better place to live is truly inspiring, and their hard work is resulting in another great playground where children can play together, regardless of their level of ability.”

Shawnee Park is one of 18 parks designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his firm.

“Frederick Law Olmsted's objective for all his parks was that all people, regardless of differences, could benefit from everything that parks offer. This “play together” playground would make Mr. Olmsted smile. We're delighted to help bring this project to life,” said Mimi Zinniel, director of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

Funding for this project includes $350,000 from Louisville Metro Government, $200,000 from the DREAM Foundation and $150,000 from the Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

The new playground/sprayground uses a series of ramps allowing easy access for wheelchair users. The ramps take users to upper playground decks for access to those play elements. There is also a large boat-type element on the playground that can accommodate up to eight people sitting and two wheelchairs.

Rubber surfaces throughout the playground also make it easier for wheelchairs or those who might require the assistance of a crutch or walker. In the splash play area, the sounds of water will stimulate the senses of visually impaired children. The sprayground celebrates Shawnee Park’s relationship with and proximity to the Ohio River.

“Shawnee Park is already one of our most heavily-used and scenic parks, and we believe the playground/sprayground is going to be a real enhancement that visitors of all ages will enjoy,” Metro Parks Director Mike Heitz said.

Jack Will, Development Director for the DREAM Foundation and a member of the non-profit Louisville Metro Parks Foundation, said it is the group’s goal that “play together” playgrounds like the one at Shawnee become “destination points” for families in Louisville and the surrounding areas who are looking for sites where all children can interact and play on an equal basis.

On the web:

· DREAM Foundation of Kentucky:

· Olmsted Parks Conservancy:

· Metro Parks: