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"Actually getting inclusion": The City of Naples focuses on its parks

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN: The City of Naples focuses on ADA improvements to its parks
Posted at 7:12 AM, Mar 07, 2024

NAPLES, Fla. — Loudermilk Park is one of many Naples parks that will soon have a revamp. Naples City Council decided on Wednesday to go forward with some ADA improvements to the park and has done the same with many other parks over the last year.

Since Hurricane Ian hit, the city has been looking at how it can bring these parks back to life for everyone.

"Recently we did an inclusive playground. There were kids that we watched that that was the first time that they've ever played on that playground," said Chad Merritt, Director of the Parks and Recreation department. "By providing these opportunities, it may be the first time that somebody's been able to actually go out on the beach and that's why these ADA mats are important."

Something that Stephanie Nordin, a mom of two boys with Autism and founder of Autism Collier, says has been a long time coming.

"When my kids were little, we couldn't go to any parks," said Nordin. "I think it's fabulous that we've transitioned from awareness to action and actually getting into inclusion."

It is a community effort that will ensure all boys and girls are able to enjoy the beautiful parks Naples has offer.

"It would be great if we could have social hangouts with our kids and they could all go play, but we're nowhere near where it would need to be to be inclusive," said Nordin. "I'm really proud of the City of Naples for starting, because that's what needs to happen."