Nonprofit Spotlight: Friends of Stewart Park

In the past few weeks, I’ve gotten to know Friends of Stewart Park (FSP) very well. I recently did a long-form report on the inclusive playground they are revitalizing at Stewart Park, and the impact they will have on the community.

Volunteers working on the playground during Phase 1 of the construction

FSP was founded in 2011 with the goal to maintain and improve Stewart Park. Because FSP is a non-profit, they rely heavily on the city of Ithaca and their community members for funds to help its efforts. By 2021, the park’s centennial, they hope to have the playground completely finished.

During this six-day build of Phase 1 of the construction, volunteers from all around Ithaca came to help.

In terms of the new inclusive park that they are constructing, it’s different in the sense that although many parks in Ithaca are deemed ADA-accessible, none of them are actually wheelchair friendly. I had the chance to speak to a young girl named Karina Hill who never really gets to play at the playground with her three sisters because she is in a wheelchair. Her mother, Chelsea, told me that it’s very challenging for her because Karina can really only enjoy the playground when her father is there to help lift her.

Karina and her mom, Chelsea, who are both very excited about the revitalization of the park

What features are being added so that the playground can be used by everyone, including Karina? The park plans to have a new accessible splash pad, an elevated walkway with a path, a restored and accessible Carousel, and much more.

The restored Carousel has a ramp for wheelchairs

With this major revitalization project underway, do you think that this has the ability to start a trend with the reconstruction of other playgrounds in the Ithaca area?

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