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Kirksville Kiwanis Club celebrates second anniversary of inclusive playground

On Saturday, the Kiwanis Club of Kirksville hosted a second anniversary celebration of the Kiwanis Playground in Honor of Shag Grossnickle and Harvey Young. (KTVO/Ashley Hoak)

One service organization in Kirksville is celebrating the anniversary of a unique playground.

A special party was held this weekend.

On Saturday, the Kiwanis Club of Kirksville hosted a second anniversary celebration of the Kiwanis Playground in Honor of Shag Grossnickle and Harvey Young.

The inclusive playground is located near the Adair County Family YMCA.

Kirksville Kiwanis Club President Kathy Adler says the playground was designed to be accessible for anyone who wants to enjoy it, regardless of ability.

"It doesn't matter if a child has any disabilities or is otherwise challenged. They can come and enjoy, as well as children who don't. It allows the community to play together and be together and learn about each other."

The playground features 9,000 square feet of grass and it was carefully designed to allow people in wheelchairs to easily access all equipment.

Before the playground opened, the closest similar playground was located more than 150 miles away in St. Louis.

Now, families from across northeast Missouri and the surrounding area travel to Kirksville to utilize the play equipment.

"I know that people come from outside of the area frequently to visit because there isn't anything like this around."

Adler adds that the idea for this playground first came about during a special meeting of the Adair County SB-40 Board in June 2013.

That night, the board voted to commit $100,000 towards building the playground.

In addition, more than 200 organizations, businesses, and individuals donated to the project and the Kiwanis Club of Kirksville pledged to raise $100,000 to secure naming rights.

Adler says that seeing the playground up and running just a couple of years later is a dream come true.

"When you look at the blue prints and you look at the money that needs to go into this, and it seems like it is just enormous and you'd never be able to do it, and then have it come to fruition is just really exciting for everybody."

The playground was named in honor of Shag Grossnickle and Harvey Young, who were at the time, the two oldest living members of the Kirksville Kiwanis Club.

The all inclusive playground officially opened in August 2016.

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