A million dollar dream is one step closer to reality in Commerce Township as construction of a park for all children gets underway.
WOMC morning show host Stephen Clark and his wife Larenne broke ground on a special project Friday, inspired by their grand-daughter Scarlet.
Scarlet, armed with a hardhat and toy saw did the honors of symbolically cutting down the first tree to make way for the park. The 5-year-old girl has muscular atrophy, a condition that affects the part of her nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement.
The Clarks launched the Scarlet Smile Foundation to help find a cure and that prayer was answered sooner than expected.
"She became the first patient on earth to be prescribed the drug. It's working. As you can see she probably couldn't have lifted that saw a a year ago," Clark said.
Now they're building a barrier-free playground that's designed to be inclusive for all children.
"One of the things we noticed in parks: there are a lot of great parks that have equipment designed for kids with disabilities, but they generally put the equipment over here and put the other equipment over here and the kids end up staring across a divide," Clark said. "Which, in our mind, kind of perpetuates the stereotype and they stop looking at the girl and start looking at the wheel chair."
But this park will be different. It will be entirely wheelchair accessible and the design will encourage kids of all abilities to play together. They're also building picnic areas and paved trails in the nearby woods.
"We look forward to making this a place where scarlet, her family, your families, senior citizens who want to come to a park but maybe they're not ambulatory, we'll have a park they can navigate. A wounded warrior wants to come to the park with their children, they're going to navigate it. Children who want to play with children are going to fill this park," Commerce Twp Supervisor David Scott said.
The project isn't complete. Though the half million dollars is a big boost, they're still short another half million. To donate, go to www.scarletssmile.com where you can learn more about the project.