• On May 10, 2013 ·

Tatums-Logo-Med-ResChildhood is an important time, filled with critical opportunities to interact socially and strengthen the imagination. Unfortunately, special needs children are often excluded from activities when facilities are not capable of accommodating youngsters with disabilities. Tatum’s Garden in Salinas is a community-based effort to build an inclusive playground that is accessible to all children.

To achieve the dream of Tatum’s Garden, organizers are calling on the community to help build this haven for children of all abilities. The project is financially sponsored by Salinas Circle for Children, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that advocates for special needs children. As a result, donations to help with the construction of Tatum’s Garden are tax deductible. Contributors can sponsor pavers or pickets, and contributors can also make monetary donations to the Tatum’s Garden Fund Drive. The estimated budget for the incredible playground is $750,000.

Tatum’s Garden is truly a community project. The design will feature the play area, accessible parking, and picnic areas. Leathers and Associates, a company with experience building accessible playgrounds, is drawing from the imaginations of the schoolchildren in Salinas. Additionally, the community’s agricultural history will be reflected in the overall design theme. The designers at Leathers and Associates are visiting the schoolchildren in May 2013, and the inspired design will be revealed on May 10. Organizers are hoping that the completed design will help generate greater public interest in the project.

The development of Tatum’s Garden will also rejuvenate the community through more than just inclusive play. The playground will be constructed on a corner lot in Sherwood Park that has been neglected. Additionally, 94 percent of the materials for the planned play area will be recycled plastic.

The idea for this incredible playground was sparked by Bakker Construction owners Shawn and Amanda Bakker. Their child, Tatum Bakker, is diagnosed with spina bifida, and she is the initial inspiration for the accessible playground. Amanda Bakker stated that more than 6,800 children enrolled in Monterey County public schools are participating in special education programs or programs for children with disabilities. Bakker believes that these children deserve a place to play, and children with and without special needs can benefit from playing together.

The organizers responsible for Tatum’s Garden are bringing a community together to build a dream. The desire to create a play place for all children, regardless of physical abilities or special needs, is the driving force behind this project. With community involvement, including monetary contributions, Tatum’s Garden is inching closer and closer to becoming a reality.

Visit the Tatum’s Garden website