Special-needs playground to open Monday

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – For his culmination project, Tupelo High School senior Ryan Reynolds rallied the community and raised nearly $5,000 for a handicap-accessible playground.
On Thursday, Reynolds broke ground on the project accompanied by his family and representatives of the agencies that donated to the cause. Contributors included the Tupelo Quality of Life Committee, the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency, BancorpSouth, Community Bank, Renasant Bank, John Pittman, Boyd Yarbrough, Ken and Norma Wicker, and Scott and Amanda Angle.
The Kiwanis Club of Tupelo was the lead sponsor and has naming rights to the playground, which will be constructed adjacent to the existing children’s playground in the Fairpark district.
Volunteers will lay the foundation and erect the special equipment, including two swings and two panels of musical instruments, today and over the weekend. It’s expected to open Monday.
“This will be a great addition to Fairpark,” said Mayor Jack Reed Jr., who helped Reynolds break ground. “We call this Tupelo’s front porch, and this will make our porch a little wider.”
Reynolds said he got the idea two years ago while watching a news report on a similar project elsewhere in the nation. When it was time to plan his culmination project – a necessary component for THS graduation – he remembered the playground he saw on TV and began his planning in May 2010.
He approached potential donors and was able to raise $4,300 for the equipment and $400 for the timber, as well as assemble a cast of volunteer laborers.
“I hope a lot of other students take your lead,” said Mark Burleson, BancorpSouth’s Tupelo president. “This is really nice.”
Said Kiwanis Club President Scott Reed about Reynolds: “A lot of people have good ideas, but it’s rare to see people actually implement them.”
Reynolds said he’s proud of the effort and hopes children will enjoy the park. He also said he hopes he gets an ‘A’ on his senior project.

emily.lecoz@journalinc.com