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Rachel Ritchie thinks she should be able to play alongside her friend, who has special needs.
The 9-year-old proposed to the Vine Grove City Council on Monday night to add playground equipment to the area, possibly at Optimist Park on Knox Avenue, that is accessible to those with special needs.
“I have an idea to get playground equipment for the disabled kids in Vine Grove,” she said to city officials, reading shyly from a statement she wrote on notebook paper. “It would change some kids’ lives just to get to play at a park without assistance or being made fun of. I bet if we worked together, we could make this happen. Together, we could change disabled kids’ lives.”
Rachel, a third-grader at Vine Grove Elementary School, took pictures of existing playgrounds in Vine Grove and assessed, with the help of her parents, what it might cost to make accessible equipment available.
Her family estimates the equipment at $20,000 for what Rachel is calling the Fun for Everyone Park.
Rachel suggested grants available to cities that want to provide such a service and asked for city support.
All council members agreed to support the effort, and Mayor Blake Proffitt said there might be money in the city’s parks budget to assist with the project.
“I think Ms. Rachel has gotten a good start on this endeavor, and we’re very, very proud of her,” he said.
Proffitt said Rachel’s family and community members have reason to be proud of her action based on a need she saw.
“We look forward to working with you to help make this dream a reality,” he said.
Councilwoman Donna Betson suggested Rachel ask the Vine Grove Women’s Club, of which she is president, for donations.
Councilwoman Donna Spangenberger said a resident she has spoken with about the idea said it was a wonderful plan, and she wished someone had thought of it when her own child was young.
The resident also pointed out that Vine Grove would be the only city in the area to offer such an amenity, Spangenberger said.
Proffitt said it is clear there is public support for the idea.
The city is working to set up a bank account to accept donations for the project. Donations can be sent to the city of Vine Grove at 300 W. Main St., Vine Grove, KY 40175.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or email@example.com.