SYRACUSE, Utah – Residents of Syracuse have seen more than their share of tragedy lately, but the community celebrated this week as they broke ground on a new playground dedicated to a special young girl.
Residents broke ground on Chloe’s Sunshine Playground, which will feature adapted swings, slides and other attractions that are accessible to children who are dealing with disabilities.
Seven-year-old Chloe Bennett was all smiles as the groundbreaking began Tuesday. Chloe’s family helped raise about $400,000 to build the first phase of the accessible playground.
Chloe’s mother, Tara Bennett, said it has been an effort supported by many.
"The cities, counties, state, neighbors, friends, and everyone has supported us because I think they realize that inclusion is important, so that all kids can play together,” she said.
Chloe has cerebral palsy and West syndrome. She can’t speak or walk, but she still wants the opportunity to play at the park with her friends.
"When we'd go to parks and they'd run and play, you know, it was a little bit of a struggle for even Tara and I because we were carrying her around and running up and down, jumping all over,” said Chloe’s father, Michael Bennet. “But it's really exciting to have the new park, that they will all be able to run together."
Nikki Kuculyn’s son Ben is one of the children excited about the project. She said the family previously had to travel to West Jordan to visit a park their son Ben can enjoy.
"For him to be able to play with his sibling and with his friends, it's just something you can't describe when you've lived without that,” she said. “It's something most families take for granted."
Ben said he was thrilled.
"I just love having this playground 'cause I haven't had a playground for me before, so, yeah,” he said.
The first phase of construction is expected to be completed in October. Future phases are planned as well, with attractions like a splash pad and a bigger pavilion on the list of things to be added to the park.