Gary Kamp, left, representing the Jackson Jaycees Foundation, last Friday presented a check for $10,000 to Andrea Cunningham and Scott Lipke, who are working towards building a playground where children with or without disabilities can play together. The project is expected to cost $500,000.
Earlier this year, McDonald’s in Jackson donated funds to help with this project. From left are: McDonald’s Area Supervisor Cheryl Farrow; Assistant Manager Melissa Lanigan and Assistant Manager Helen Spooler; and Andrea Cunningham, who is spearheading the playground project in memory of her daughter.
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All-Accessible playground dream gaining support

by Denise Kinder Staff Reporter

Andrea Cunningham’s dream of having a playground where children with and without disabilities can play together is another inch closer to reality.

Jackson McDonald’s presented a check to Cunningham to help with the costs of building the all-accessible playground. For four hours, 15 percent of the profits made during disability awareness week in Jackson went to the playground project.

The project, Melaina's Magical Playground, is estimated to cost approximately $500,000 to complete and is funded through donations and grants. Cunningham said she hopes to begin building the playground within a year.

This project was inspired by Jeff and Andrea Cunningham’s daughter, Melaina, who was born with a rare muscle disease called Nemaline Myopathy. Melaina passed away in March 2009, but the Cunningham’s are more determined than ever to see this project through to completion.

“Our hope is that this playground will be a place where ALL children can play together side by side regardless of ability or disability they may have,” Andrea said. “The structure will be designed to accommodate children with special needs, but also fun and challenging for everyone.”

Cunningham explained that area playgrounds present challenges and are not accessible for wheelchairs. She wants to get the whole community involved and have all children use the playground.

“We’re hopeful that the community will embrace this project with us to help make this dream become a reality.” Cunningham said. “This will also hopefully draw children and families from the surrounding communities as well.”
 
 

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