Oct 26

Non-Profit to Build Schuylkill County, PA’s First Inclusive Playground

MRC Recreation, in conjunction with Dustin’s Adventureland, a recently formed 501c3 non-profit, are happy to announce the initial purchase of equipment for the first ever all-inclusive playground in Schuylkill County, PA. Through the fundraising efforts of the Dustin’s Adventureland board and the generosity of many donors, they were able to purchase the main structure of the playground. Utilizing MRC & GameTime’s matching funds grant promotion, the non-profit was able to save nearly $70,000 on the purchase of the inclusive playground equipment.

“This purchase is a huge step in the process of making the playground come to reality and would not be possible without the dedicated board members and the generous donors who helped us raise over $70,000 to date. We would like to thank both Branch Township and Minersville Borough for their amazing support since the start of this project.” said Jeffrey Dunkel, V.P. of Dustin’s Adventureland.

inclusive playground pennsylvania

Recently, Dustin’s Adventureland, has secured a 20-year lease with the Borough of Minersville, to build the first ever all-inclusive playground at their Recreation Complex. The facility will be between the Minersville Pool and Minersville Lion’s Pavilion. This venue will allow children of all abilities and ages to enjoy a playground atmosphere that they would typically not be able to participate in. For a family in Schuylkill County to currently attend an all-inclusive playground, it would require several hours of traveling outside of the county, and Dustin’s Adventureland plans to bring one to the heart of Schuylkill County by the end of 2021.

Dustin’s Adventureland was started in 2019 after two years of fundraising and hosting events such as Special Needs Egg Hunts. Amy Freed (Dustin’s Mom) generated the Egg Hunt idea after witnessing her son and others struggle with the typical egg hunts as they were often noisy and crowded. Amy and Jeffrey Dunkel teamed up to start fundraising and hosting the areas only All-Inclusive Egg Hunt which brought 115 children from Schuylkill County who had special needs and allowed them to take part in an egg hunt designed specifically for them. Following fundraising efforts and having several thousand dollars left, Freed and Dunkel discussed options and decided on placing an accessible swing at a local playground in Pottsville. They contacted a local well-known playground installer, James Womer, for his advice. Mr. Womer quickly agreed to install the swing for no cost. Later that evening, Womer called back and stated that he wanted to do a full playground instead. After countless calls, meetings, and fundraising hours, they are now thrilled to announce that they have purchased the largest piece of playground equipment and had the ability to save nearly $70,000 with the help of MRC Recreation.

ramped playground structure

“When Jeff reached out to me, he did not know that I have had a desire to build an inclusive playground in the area for more than fifteen years. Without access to land or funding, this dream of mine seemed to be just that, a dream. In collaboration with Dustin’s Adventureland, and with the support of residents of Schuylkill County, we are going to make this dream a reality” said Jim Womer, Womer Landscaping Inc.

“We are so grateful to see the dedication, hard work, and generosity of our community coming to fruition in the purchase of the first piece of Dustin’s Adventureland playground. Our children need play to learn and to grow. As we obtain the first components to begin this project, we congratulate every person who has been part of this effort to fulfill our mission of inclusion.” stated Board Member/Secretary Dale Verchick.

“This project means so much to Dustin and I. It means that no child will be left out and all children can play together, even with a disability. Dustin has been an inspiration to me and to everyone around us. My goal is to help children and parents with socializing and coming together as a team and leave no one out of a childhood. Hopefully this playground will teach others that being different is ok and to create many friendships. It’s going to be a wonderful thing!” said Amy Freed, Dustin’s Mother.

inclusive playground design

If you would like to assist with fundraising efforts, become a part of our advisory board or to donate, please check out their website www.dustinsadventureland.org.

A special thanks to the Dustin’s Adventureland Board Members involved with this project:
James Womer, President / Jeffrey Dunkel, Vice President / Chester Evans, Treasurer / Dale Verchick, Secretary / Amy Freed / Bob Giba / John Rich III / Joseph Ferraro / Brian Spangenberger / Merideth Hannan / Jackie Murton