Playscape in Partin Park Dedicated to Special Needs
Tracy’s Playground Gets
Upgraded Climbing Structure
Every child needs a safe place to play, especially those with physical disabilities. The Quint Shrine Club of Toombs County has always been committed to the welfare of children in the community who are physically disabled. Some of the continued from page
club’s ongoing support is in donating to the Shriners' hospitals in America, transporting local children needing critical surgical procedures to these hospitals at no cost to the families, and raising funds for other needs that a child and the family has.
Early in 2006, five-yearold Tracy Banks, who has Cerebral Palsy, had outgrown the toddler swings at the Lyons Recreation Department’s Partin Park. Tracy loves doing anything outdoors. His mother, Robyn Banks, wrote a letter to the editor of The Advance to advocate for playground equipment appropriate for children who are physically disabled. She researched what would be needed to make a play area safe.
The Shriners had previously helped the Banks family by raising funds to purchase a wheelchair for Tracy. The members agreed with Robyn and her husband, Tony, that there was a need for a play space specifically for children with physical disabilities. The City of Lyons provided an area of Partin Park, and the Shriners went to work, giving of their time, and securing donations from Lowe’s and 26 other businesses and individuals. The goal was the construction of Tracy’s Playground, named for the active little boy. Tracy’s Playground is located on the South Washington Street side of Partin Park.
The playground was completed in October of 2006, and Tracy took the first ride in a new swing. His mother remembers the outpouring of support for funding and building the play area. “I was very touched by the community support. It was phenomenal how so many people came together and worked so hard to build the park.” Robyn especially remembers the hard work of RTCA football players and their Coach Jimmy Watts, and the support of her coworkers at the Toombs County Sheriff ’s Office. The playground has seen a lot of activity. “It’s a great addition, no doubt,” said James McGowan, Director of the Lyons Recreation Department. “There are many times that this playground is really busy, even with other children.” In January of this year, the Lyons City Council resolved to replace a worn-out climbing structure at Tracy’s Playground. The Shrine Club wished to continue its support of the playground. The Club members went to work again and raised $2,500, and the Ohana Ladies Shrine Club of the Aziza Court #108 joined in to raise $500 toward replacing the overused equipment. The City of Lyons will add to these generous donations with future capital expenditures for the ongoing maintenance and improvement of this play space.
Members of the Quint Shrine Club and the Ohana Ladies Shrine Club met recently to complete the soft ground cover around the new, brightly colored climbing and sliding structure, installed beside the safety swing sets already in place. Lyons Mayor Willis NeSmith and members of the City Council were in attendance to show their appreciation for the generous hearts, services, and donations of the clubs for the continuing safety and well-being of young citizens of Lyons with physical disabilities.
On a recent October day, 14 years after the park was first built, 19- year- old Tracy Banks took one of his regular trips to the playground named after him. His friend and nurse, Chris Sapp, cares for Tracy while his parents work. The playground stop was one of many activities that Tracy enjoys. He hunts with his parents, drives an allterrain track chair, and loves the fast cars of NASCAR. His big smile shows his delight in being with people and in being outdoors. With the care and the hard work of the Shriners, the City of Lyons and many people in the community who came together for a worthy cause, Tracy’s Playground is an ongoing gift that provides a safe place for this special young man, and for all children with physical disabilities, and their families, to play outside.
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