Susan Monegan of Brimfield is working to ensure that all children can enjoy a safe space to play by constructing the first handicap inclusive playground in Portage County.
Following her retirement from a 23-year career at the Stow Munroe Falls School District, Susan became a weekly caregiver for the youngest of her six grandchildren, Mila. Mila is now six years old and is non-verbal with visual impairments and mobility challenges. When Mila was age 3, she finally started to take steps on her own without a gait trainer. To celebrate, Susan wanted to start taking Mila to playgrounds and parks to play, but was disappointed when she discovered that the closest playground with equipment and grounds accessible to children with physical disabilities was 30 minutes away and one county over.
Susan set out to solve this by founding the Fields Playground Group, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to build the first all-inclusive playground in Portage County. The Fields Playground Group
has partnered with Randolph Township to build a handicap accessible playground at Old School Park in the township. They are currently fundraising to construct the fourth PlayCore National Demonstration Site playground for all-inclusive play in the state of Ohio. The park will include several special features and pieces of equipment that address the specific needs of children with all ability levels, including those with wheelchairs, visual impairments, autism, and mobility limitations.
In a letter written for Mila to commemorate the project, Susan summarizes her work in writing: “Just think Mila, ALL children, big or tall, regular and special, and those that fall, will have this special place to laugh and play, no barriers in their way.”