FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A first-of-its kind park is taking shape in Northwest Fresno. It's called "Inspiration Park," for people of all ages *and* abilities. The park started as a dream of one Fresno father over a decade ago, and he gave Action News a sneak peek before it finally opens to the public.
With every shovel full of dirt and every load of bark, a decade-long dream is coming together. Crews spent Thursday morning putting the finishing touches on Inspiration Park in Northwest Fresno.
"On the far side is a skate board park for those in wheelchairs," Jim Santos -- the founder of Inspiration Park -- could hardly contain his excitement as he showed us around the 8-acre park. He took us onto a green rubber field, "Baseball field, soccer field and a track all rolled into one piece of rubber. Pretty cool isn't it?" Next to it, an area for bocce ball. Santos says he pictured vans of senior citizens arriving from area rest homes.
The park is state of the art and universally accessible. The playground equipment has wide, low-incline ramps. The picnic tables include an open end for wheelchairs. The swings are large and secure. One of the coolest features of the park is the adjustable basketball hoops. With a simple turn of a handle, you can raise or lower the hoop based on your skill level or ability.
Santos says it's not just a park for the disabled, but rather, "a park where everybody can play, you know, regular kids, and disabled children and adults." Santos' vision started with something that was lacking for developmentally disabled adult son. "The issue was, there was no place for him to really be like a regular person on the weekends and after school, so I've never seen a park like this."
The $10.6 million park was slowly funded over the years through grants and donations. With plenty of setbacks along the way: "There were many times we thought, well, this isn't going to happen. But it's happening and it's getting close." Robert Hand -- Executive director with Resources for Independence Central Valley -- stepped in to help, his organization agreeing to maintain the park. Hand explained, "We work with people with disabilities who have been denied access to places they wanna be for their whole lives. And I can just picture... Them coming here. The smiles and the laughter. It's going to be spectacular."
That's music to Santos' ears, who's counting down the days 'til the sound of that laughter fills the air. Inspiration Park is scheduled to open this Fall. Santos hopes it will become a model for similar parks across the country.
Inspiration Park Nearing Completion in Northwest Fresno
The park started as the dream of a Fresno father over a decade ago.
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