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New specialized equipment installed at Athens playground

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ATHENS, Ala. - A kids playground just got a little bit bigger. It's part of an effort to be more inclusive.

The ribbon has been cut, and now it's playtime, for everyone. The city of Athens and Greater Limestone Chamber of Commerce helps make the Sportsplex Dugout Playground better for kids of all abilities.

"When you find out that there are different kids with different needs, we want our facilities, as part of quality of life, to address everybody's needs," explained Ben Wiley, director of the city's parks and recreation.

The city received a $50,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), then matched the money.

The put in rubber surfacing, making wheelchair access easier, and new, inclusive equipment, like the merry-go-all, making it better fit it's name.

"It's 'All Kids,'" said Mayor Ronnie Marks. "We want all kids to be here and to play. If they don't have the ability to climb the rock wall, then they have the ability to do something else.

The park opened in 1997 and Mayor Marks says it was always ADA-compliant, but with this new equipment, he makes sure that it's ready for all kids.

City leaders say this is only the first phase, and with more research and community input, they plan to add on to the new specialized equipment.