By Charlotte Underwood

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – The Caryville Cares Inclusive Playground was the topic at Tuesday’s South Campbell County Rotary Club meeting. Project chairman Brandon Johnson spoke to fellow Rotarians about the playground project and why it’s something Campbell Countians should “care about and invest in.” He said there will be a fundraising dinner for the project on March 12. 

According to Johnson “every park in Campbell County was built with able bodied children in mind, with very little, if any consideration given to children who may have a disability.” 

Once completed, the Caryville Cares project will change that by providing a safe all-inclusive playground. It will have specially designed playground equipment for kids with different disabilities, including for children on the autism spectrum. 

“We believe every child deserves the chance to play, regardless of ability level, and know that they matter,” Johnson said.

Statistically Campbell County has a high rate of people with disabilities.

The Caryville Cares Inclusive Playground Project will provide a playground for children with disabilities. The project will be hosting a fundraising dinner on March 12.

“For people under age 65 with disabilities, the national average is 8 percent. Campbell County is more than double that at 22 percent,” Johnson said.

The playground will be located across from Shoneys in Caryville. 

“This isn’t just inclusivity, it’s economic development, too. Our friends coming in as tourists exiting off the interstate will see that Campbell County cares. This is a huge show that our youth matter,” Johnson said. 

The project is being led by a committee of young people “who are determined to make the future of our community better.”

Brandon Johnson is the project chairman for the Caryville Cares Inclusive Playground.

Currently, the project has about $300,000 committed or pledged through grants and various donations. According to Johnson, the total project cost is around $600,000 and will be built by Cunningham Recreation, the nationally recognized experts in building all-inclusive playgrounds.

“We appreciate the outpouring of support for this from the community. We need everyone in the county to get behind this. No donation is too big or too small, whether you can donate $5 or $50,000, you can feel invested in this project, ” Johnson said.

There will be a fundraising dinner for the project on March 12 at Hidden Spring Farm. Tickets are currently on sale for the event at $75 per person.  Campbell County native and head football coach at Coastal Carolina University Jamey Chadwell will be guest speaker at the event. There will also be a silent and live auction, for which the project committee is currently accepting donations. 

The fundraiser is just weeks away.

To submit auction items or to purchase a ticket or for more information about supporting the playground project, contact Johnson at 423.494.4894 or email (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 02/09/2022-6AM)