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Groundbreaking at Ryder Park for all inclusive playground

From Classroom Project to Reality!

CCC Foundation joins CCC Occupational Therapy Assistant Students to escort inclusive playground from dream to reality.

On July 25, 2023 dirt flew as Tom & Sue Pirnie, along with several donors, co-chairs, children, and CCC alums turned shovels at Ryder Park to break ground for the Pirnie Inclusive Playground. 

This 27,000 square foot playground was imagined in an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Classroom at Central Community College in the spring of 2021. The OTA Students were challenged to design a community project that would increase the mobility and quality of life for individuals who are unable to fully participate in daily activities due to physical or psychological limitations.

Their class project soon took a life of its own as they used their occupational therapy concepts stimulating physical, cognitive, social, emotional and sensory skills in the design of the massive community playground.

Bryan Klinginsmith, one of the six CCC students who presented the project spoke at the ceremony saying "we worked very hard on the project and we didn't know where it was going to go. We always had big hopes and dreams that it would come to this one day, and here we are.”

Klinginsmith had high praise for CCC and the Foundation. "We've been very thankful that Central Community College has backed us 100% from the very beginning on this project," he said. "They saw our passion for this and they stood behind us and helped us out in every way they could."

At the CCC Foundation’s urging, the class presented their idea to a group of community leaders in April of 2021 and were encouraged to pursue this dream for Grand Island’s youngest residents as well as all of those who are young at heart.

"That's when the Central Community College Foundation took over the project and started doing the fundraising and all the legwork for it,” said Klinginsmith.

From this meeting, the team added project partners including the City of Grand Island and the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation. 

In all, with the support of 237 donors, the team raised $1,658,900 for the $2.8 million project.  The City of Grand Island added $1.25 million in infrastructure upgrades to include paved parking and new accessible restrooms on site.

CCC Board of Governor Tom Pirnie and his wife Sue led the way with a lead gift of $200,000 to name the playground.  

In her remarks to the crowd CCC Foundation Executive Director Traci Skalberg said, “There were reasons to not pursue. To not persist. To say no. You said yes. A lot of people had to look at fear or hassle in the face and say yes. It would have been easier to say no. It took all of us.  You all could have said no.  It would have been easier.  But you said yes.  And, just as soon as we break ground…the construction crews will begin with the goal to finish in the fall.  And that will be a YES for Grand Island.  A YES for children of all abilities.  Congratulations!”