Southeast Side church raises money for inclusive playground

Playground to be available to the public, accessible for children with disabilities

Baptist Temple now has enough money to move ahead with building an inclusive playground for children with disabilities.

San Antonio – Officials with Baptist Temple on the Southeast Side said they have enough money secured to move forward with an “inclusive” playground that will allow for disabled and non-disabled children to play together.

Although the playground in the 900 block of East Drexel Avenue is church-owned, Pastor Jorge Zayasbazan said the revamped location will be available to the public.

“What could be better than to help children with disabilities overcome some of those adverse childhood events?” he asked.

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The goal of the inclusive playground is to be accessible to children of varying abilities, with Zayasbazan highlighting features like rubberized surfaces and a ground-level merry-go-round children in wheelchairs can use.

The money for the project comes from a mix of grants and donations, and the church just hit its $124,000 benchmark on Giving Tuesday. Zayasbazan hopes to be able to break ground on the project in January.

The area for smaller children has already had some renovations done, using some of the money. Now the church has enough to expand to a larger area, too.

Zayasbazan said they are still trying to raise more money for even more equipment and to make the parking area more accessible.

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Xavier Sanchez, a 20-year-old UTSA student, has been working with Baptist Temple to help promote the project. With no arms and partial legs, Sanchez remembers the difficulties of moving around a typical playground as a kid.

“I had to get down and dirty and had to put my face on the floor trying to climb up those things,” Sanchez said.

But he also remembers the feeling of playing on an inclusive playground at Respite Care of San Antonio.

“I didn’t have to worry about, you know, was I gonna be able to climb up the stairs, or was I going to be able to go down the slide? Everything was there and everything was ready for me,” Sanchez said. “And I feel like if we can make more of those in San Antonio, then that opportunity for other children is awesome.”

Sanchez said the independence that children with disabilities get to experience on those playgrounds is important, too, and it helps even into their adult lives.

“When you’re four, you want to go by yourself. You don’t want your mom holding your hand. You don’t want your dad holding your hand. You just want to go and have fun,” Sanchez said. “And so do children who are in a wheelchair. So do children who have to use crutches or whatever equipment they need.”

For more information on the project, visit the Baptist Temple website.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.