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County, nonprofits seek to raise $500,000 for inclusive playground

The Henderson County Tourism Development Authority and Henderson County Parks & Recreation have teamed up to fund an inclusive playground at Jackson Park in Hendersonville. Through its grant program, the TDA contributed $150,000.

Total cost of the playground for children of all ability levels is estimated to range from $500,000 to $600,000.

“Most people are surprised at how much this sort of thing costs,” said Carleen Dixon, director of Henderson County Parks & Recreation. “But the value of a playground like this is truly immeasurable. A playground is a usually a child’s initiation into the world of parks and recreation. When a young child goes to a playground, they see the older kids playing sports, a group doing outdoor yoga or playing disc golf, the gardens being maintained by community members, people cycling on the greenway or at the bike area, and they get interested. This kickstarts their desire to join in on these activities. Our goal is to keep them involved at all ages, which countless studies have shown can lead to a healthy, active lifestyle and a lifelong love for parks and recreation."

Fundraising efforts are under way by the Hendersonville Elks Lodge in partnership with Special Needs Sports and Henderson County Parks and Recreation. The Henderson County Board of Commissioners has set aside $200,000 for the new playground.

The TDA is supporting many projects through its grants program, as well as the playground and the Ecusta Trail, all of which benefit locals and visitors alike.

The largest local government-owned park in Western North Carolina, the 200-acre park  is home to ball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, a popular disc golf course, hiking trails, tennis courts, the Oklawaha Greenway, a bike skills area, picnic tables, covered picnic shelters, a dog area and more.

“This is a prime example of what can be accomplished when the private sector, local organizations and local governments work together," WNC Special Needs Sports founder Donnie Jones said. "I am especially happy that it will be a place where kids are not separated by ability or disability. I have found that kids sort out these type things better than we do as adults. On behalf of Special Needs Sports, I want to thank the TDA for the grant toward the all-inclusive playground at Jackson Park.”

Tax-deductible donations are being accepted to build the Jackson Park all-inclusive playground. To donate, please visit or call (828) 697-4884. If you would like to be involved in this project in other ways please reach out to Carleen Dixon, director of Henderson County Parks and Recreation, at or by calling the number above.