The 11-year dream of a universal-access playground has finally come true for 14-year old Courtney Faye Smith. Courtney’s SandCastle playground officially opened alongside the Vista Hermosa Sports Park on Saturday.
With much anticipation, children and adults of all abilities flocked through to the gates as Courtney unlocked the doors to the park.
“I feel like it’s a dream come true,” Courtney said. "Most people don’t get to see their dreams come true, but I do.”
Located near the entrance of the sports park, the universal playground features play structures designed for children of all ages and abilities to play alongside one another.
The first phase of the project, the playground, features musical soundboards, sensory tables, high-backed swings and soft surfaces for play.
The second phase will feature a sensory garden where children can explore many aspects of their senses.
“When I was younger, I wanted to play on playgrounds, so my family and I had to drive up to Los Angeles to do that and we thought that was ridiculous," Courtney said.
Smith was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy -- a rare muscular degenerative disease -- and has been confined to a wheelchair. Through her and her close friend Spencer’s inventive idea along with numerous donations raised by many local and non-local companies, Courtney's dream became a reality.
“I am totally overwhelmed with joy for Courtney and Spencer. It was their dream and I’m very thankful for the hundreds of people involved,” said President of Courtney’s SandCastle Foundation Don Glasgow. “There’s a better job for serving what I call the ‘underserved.’ This playground allows them to play with able-bodied people.”
Correction: Because of a reporting error, the connection between Courtney Faye Smith and her friend Spencer was misstated in an earlier version of this article. Patch regrets the mistake.