Trillum Health Resources provides $450,000

A special needs child or a wounded warrior will no longer have to sit off to the side unable to join in the fun at the playground in Havelock.

Havelock received a $450,000 Play Together Construction Grant from Trillium Health Resources to pay for an all-inclusive playground for Walter B. Jones Park.

“One thing that we really want to focus on in this county is to really give back to our military,” said Amy Corbitt, project manager from Trillium. “For those that are deployed, it is a real sense of relief to know that their child is taken care of and has a wonderful place to play in a wonderful community. Even when they return home, some of the equipment that we will be placing here will help an injured service member.”

The playground will have a rubberized surface, allowing access for wheelchairs.

“It’s going to be a playground for all abilities, all ages and hopefully increase the health and attitudes in your community,” Corbitt said. “We will have certain pieces of equipment on this playground that will be accessible to wheelchairs, children in leg braces. There will be equipment to help a child who has sensory integration issues. The mulch will be removed. There will be rubber surfacing and we will also be helping them build a walking trail that has some accessible adult workout equipment on it. They will all have some similar equipment but just a different design.”

Trillium is a managed care organization serving clients in 24 eastern North Carolina counties. Its focus is on mental health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities.

“Part of what we do for those people we serve is that we don’t just give them the medical care that they need, but we help them live more independently in the community,” said Trillium CEO Leza Wainwright, who was on hand for the check presentation last week. “One of the things that we were aware of was that children with any kind of disability were at a disadvantage in being able to play in the playgrounds throughout our community. When children play together, what started out as different no longer looks different. You’re just the kid I meet on the playground. The fact that you might be in a wheelchair or that you may have braces on your legs, suddenly that doesn’t look so odd to me anymore, and so we hope that we can help generations of children in eastern North Carolina learn about one another by playing with one another.”

Trillium has funded similar playgrounds for Dover and at Creekside Park in New Bern.

“In the nine years that I have worked at the center, families have asked me over and over for an adaptive playground for their kids that they can go to at the end of the day,” said Barb Krcmar, executive director at the Easter Seals Craven-Cherry Point Child Development Center. “This is just the perfect spot and the perfect place and it’s just so needed in this area. I’m so glad that it’s coming.”

Krcmar was one of several who wrote letters in support of the project to submit with the city’s application. Others that joined Havelock included Cherry Point, Craven County and the Special Olympics.

“Everybody will be able to use this playground,” Krcmar said. “It doesn’t matter what your abilities are. You will still be able to use that playground. You can still play and you can still be with your friends. It brings you into the community. It lets them be who they are and it lets them be part of the community. I’m just glad it’s coming.”

Tyler Harris, community liaison for Cherry Point, said the base was proud to support the effort.

“Cherry Point was pleased to be able to support the project for Havelock,” he said. “It is a wonderful opportunity for our children here to have an enhanced situation with the new playground.

That Havelock is a military community played heavily in Trillium’s choice of Havelock as the location for the playground.

“We particularly thought that here in Havelock, with such a heavy military influence, that there could be a mom or a dad who has come back from war with a handicap who can’t play with their children on this playground and now they will be able to,” Wainwright said.

She hopes the playground will draw people in from surrounding communities.

“For the eastern end of the county to get this grant, it’s going to be great for everybody to be able to come together and play,” said Billy Wilkes, of the Craven County Parks and Recreation. “I think it’s a project that you will see the folks come from the New Bern area as well.”

Wainwright said the goal is to have the playground open when school is dismissed in the first week of June.

“We want this to happen really quickly,” Wainwright said.

Havelock Mayor Will Lewis said he was pleased that the work would take place quickly.

“I always joke that there’s slow and then there’s bureaucratic. And this is going to move fast,” he said. “We’re super excited about it. We’ve worked really hard over the last several years to make sure that all of our citizens have services, and this is one way that we are going to able to provide recreation for citizens that maybe didn’t have access to recreation before.”