• 46°

SNAP playground receives ‘Best of Aquatics’ award

The “John Mark Stallings Special Needs Accessible Playground (SNAP) of Morgan County” Splash Pad has been recognized by Aquatics International magazine as a “Best of Aquatics” facility for 2011.

Young visitors cool off in the new SNAP Splash Pad.

This nationwide competition celebrates the industry’s outstanding aquatics facilities of all varieties — including government, nonprofit and privately owned operations. Entries are judged on programming, promotional materials, aquatic amenities and community involvement.

A panel of distinguished aquatics professionals independently chose SNAP as the best in class over all other spray park facilities that entered the contest.

“This project is an inspiration,” said one of the judges. Designing for universal accessibility requires foresight and careful planning. Kudos to the development team.”

The award demonstrates that the SNAP Splash Pad represents the industry’s finest – a benchmark for other similar facilities. SNAP was recognized in a special supplement to the November/December 2011 issue of Aquatics International magazine.

Aquatics International, owned by Hanley Wood, is the leading business-to-business media company serving the pool and spa, housing, and construction industries. Founded in 1976, Hanley Wood has more than 500 employees and is made up of five units, including a magazine division that publishes 22 trade magazines and an exhibition division for trade shows.

SNAP is dedicated in memory of John Mark Stallings whose 46-year life was challenged by Down Syndrome. His life exemplifies that remarkable accomplishments are possible by those with disabilities when included in society.

There are more than 1,700 physically challenged children in Morgan County, and SNAP provides a regional premier special needs accessible and usable playground for their enjoyment. The playground is strategically located in central Morgan County in Hartselle`s Sparkman Park, near the civic center. Sparkman Park hosts numerous other adjacent indoor/outdoor activities for children and adults and provides an ambient environment which is safe and conducive to those who use it.

SNAP`s unique design, accommodations and central location make it a “destination attraction,” encouraging all children, with or without special needs, to come and play. Positive interaction between special needs children and those who are not physically challenged helps to minimize self-consciousness, build self-esteem and generally enhance the lives of special needs children and their families. It is emphasized that the entire SNAP complex is special needs accessible and usable and in total compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

SNAP is a three-phase project administered entirely by volunteers and funded by charity and grants. The project was initiated in December 2006 and is being constructed in phases as funds become available, permitting early incremental use.

The Phase 1 Swing Area was completed in May 2008 at a cost of $32,794. The award-winning Phase 2 Splash Pad was completed in July 2010 at a cost of $239,224. The third and final phase is being completed in increments. A covered pavilion with picnic benches and ceiling fans was completed in June 2011 at a cost of $44,211, and includes special needs restrooms and a bi-level drinking fountain. Estimated to cost $58,000, a prominent entrance structure to the complex is under construction. A rubberized-surface playground with 45 play features, addressing twelve types of play for balanced child development, will complete the complex. Completion of this main playground is dependent on raising the remaining $350,000 required for construction.

Continued individual, business and corporate donations are essential to completion, and SNAP invites you to seek an opportunity to help. Every donation moves SNAP closer to the goal of making a difference in the lives of special needs children and their families. Visit www.snapplayground.org for more information and send donations to: SNAP of Hartselle, Inc., P. O. Box 512, Hartselle, Alabama 35640. SNAP is 501c3 approved for tax-deductible donations.