• Let the games begin - for everyone

  • Independence has a long and rich tradition of baseball. However, there are some children who have not had the same opportunities to enjoy America’s pastime – until now.

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  • Independence has a long and rich tradition of baseball. However, there are some children who have not had the same opportunities to enjoy America’s pastime – until now.
    Dozens of people, including current and former Kansas City Royal players, attended the groundbreaking of the Adaptive Baseball Field Wednesday at McCoy Park.
    It is one of two groundbreakings taking place this week in the Kansas City area. The second is in Olathe, Kan.
    “This is a very special day here in Independence,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Schultz. “Unlike some cities where baseball has waned, here in Independence, baseball is a tradition in which the level of participation is as strong today as it ever has been. But something has been missing. Baseball and all its lifelong lessons has escaped a whole group of kids. That changes today.”
    The Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities announced the partnership with the adaptive fields earlier this year. The funding is made possible, in large part, to proceeds from the 2012 Major League Baseball Gatorade All-star Workout and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium last year.
    The adaptive field will be constructed just south of the spray park at McCoy Park. It is the first phase of the McCoy Park Inclusive Play Project, which will ultimately include an all-inclusive playground for children. The playground also will include a pioneer- and trails-themed area that will be accessible to children and caregivers of all abilities. Surrounding the equipment will be a smooth surface to allow children in wheelchairs and walkers greater access. Other features include adaptive swings, saucer swings and roller slides.
    The city of Independence Parks and Recreation is partnering with Unlimited Play, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, Variety Kansas City and Vireo, a firm that specializes in architecture and community planning, to build the city’s first universally inclusive park. Both the playground and ball field will exceed ADA standards.
    Among those in attendance Tuedsay were representatives from the Independence School District, members of the Independence City Council, state Sen. Paul LeVota, state Rep. Ira Anders and Kansas City Royals pitchers Tim Collins and Aaron Crow. Former Royals Dennis Leonard and Jim Eisenreich also participated.
    “This project is very special,” said Tim McCoy, with Variety Kansas City. “Thirteen percent of kids in our schools have some type of special need, and one in four families have a child with a special need. This park will give these families and these children a place to go.”
    The baseball field will feature large dugouts that will be able to accommodate mobility devices as well as extra players. The field will feature rubberized surfacing, and the bases will be flush with the playing surface. This will allow players to have easier mobility when running the bases. Other park enhancements will include extra handicap accessible parking, modified restrooms to allow for increased accessibility, repair and enhancements to the current path system and improvements to the horseshoe pits to increase accessibility.
    Page 2 of 2 - Construction on the field is expected to begin in the next couple of weeks with completion expected sometime in September.
    “Every kid should get the chance to play the game (of baseball),” Schultz said. “If only for a moment, they too can feel like a major leaguer. When you make a kid smile, everyone wins.”

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