Along with numerous other community volunteers ​I am​ enthusiastically involved with the Andy Russell Charitable Foundation helping to raise $475,000 and coordinate the construction of an All Inclusive, Barrier Free, Playground ​for the physically disabled​ which will be incorporated within the existing East Snyder Recreation Park in Selinsgroveserving the Northumberland, Snyder and Union County communities.  Happily, the playground design has received the endorsement and accreditation of Let Kids Play!, a nationally recognized consulting firm, whose stamp of approval is an important affirmation of the need and value of the playground for children with special needs​ which is a powerful blue ribbon endorsement and not easily obtained.

The design of the playground will specifically address the challenges of children who may be autistic, have intellectual disabilities, hearing or sight impairments, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, are dependent upon wheel chair use, or have other life altering disabilities.  The playground design accommodates the participation of typical children who want to play along with siblings as well as parents who may be disabled and also want to interact with their children on an unencumbered and mutually enjoyable fun basis.  Thoughtfully, a service dog park is also included so those who rely on service animals will know they are safe and close by.

Of particular interest is that no other totally designed All Inclusive, Barrier Free, Playground exists in Pennsylvania.  Once again the central Susquehanna Valley establishes the example and vision of community caring, sensitivity, and commitment to creating a valuable resource for the benefit of those with disabilities and physical challenges.  The humorist, Sam Levenson, once said: “Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.”

Dozens of volunteers are now extending their second hand to help others experience a new level of enjoyment, excitement, and achievement not currently available but soon to be a reality.  The goal of the playground is to provide a rich play space where children can grow and learn though physical, sensory and social experiences.  Physical play benefits a child’s health and promotes early brain development as well as decreases the risk of developing health conditions like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health conditions.

Sensory play will provide activities that stimulate a young child’s senses.  Spending time stimulating their senses helps children develop  cognitively, linguistically, socially, emotionally, physically and creatively.  Children interacting with others in play settings learn social rules such as, give and take, reciprocating, cooperation and sharing.  Social skills are the foundation for getting along with others and help children make friends, solve problems, increase attentiveness, reduce bullying and increase self esteem.  Children who are given a variety of opportunities to develop their creativity and imagination are learning to express their individually in interests, abilities and knowledge.

​I am enormously proud to be part of this important, beneficial and trailblazing project and look forward to seeing many smiling faces of children and their parents when the All Inclusive, Barrier Free, Playground is open and available for kids who want to feel the sun on their faces, the wind in their hai​r and the laughter that comes from just having fun. ​I​ urge others to also become involved as volunteers, donors and supporters by visiting ​​ or phoning 570-522-5322.


Stacy Butler
​State Farm Insurance Agent