BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Antero Foundation presented a $25,000 check on Wednesday to bring an inclusive playground to the Citynet Center in Bridgeport.

Antero Foundation presenting check for new playground (WBOY Image)

The Medbrook Children’s Charity Inclusive Playground is a grassroots program that is aiming to create an all inclusive play space that will serve all children, regardless of their abilities. This playground will allow children with disabilities to play alongside their friends and family to create a truly inclusive environment.

Joe Shuttleworth, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Bridgeport, said that the idea came from the Challenger Baseball League in Bridgeport, which gives children with special needs a chance to play. Some children traveled from around two hours away for the league because they didn’t have a chance to play in their own communities, so the playground project was born to create another amenity for them and other children.

“It’s for all children, but we’ve removed barriers that prevent children with disabilities—that may have a mental or physical disability—from participating on a playground with their family, peers, you know, brothers and sisters. So, it’s designed to where it brings all children together, regardless of ability.”

Shuttleworth told 12 News that when they designed the original playground, and the idea was released in July 2022, it was designed in phases in case the fundraising was slow, but with all the donors and hopes of grants, Shuttleworth said that they will not have many phases to go through. Although, there may be a few amenities and accessories that could pop up later depending on the winter fundraising efforts.

Playground officials’ initial goal to raise for the 3/4 acre playground project was $1,300,000; they are now sitting just over a million dollars. The City of Bridgeport and the Friends of Bridgeport Recreation Inc. will break ground in March with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the majority of the playground taking place in Summer of 2024.

Since the Antero Foundation is one of the donors, they will be listed as a “Champion of Play” on the facility’s Donor Wall.

The Friends of Bridgeport Recreation Inc. is a 501c3 charitable organization aimed at providing positive programs and activities for recreation and leisure in a manner which promotes health, wellness, community, and lasting memories. Any gifts made are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

If interested in donating to help make this project happen, you can find more information at this website, or by calling 304-842-8240.