YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - A non-profit organization in York County is trying to build a one of a kind outdoor park designed specifically with people with disabilities in mind.
The so-called Miracle Park is a dream of the York County Disabilities Foundation. Last week, the foundation presented the idea to Rock Hill's City Council, pushing the project forward.
The Miracle Park would sit on a 15-acre piece of land, partially on the current "Winthrop Park." The land is owned by both the City of Rock Hill (7 acres) and Winthrop University (8 acres). City Council agreed to lease the land to the non-profit for $1 a year, so the Foundation could purse the Miracle Park.
The park would be made up of a three phases. The first is expected to be finished by the end of 2018. According to Foundation board member Warren Norman, it would include one Miracle Field, a specially designed playground and infrastructure including parking lots and restrooms.
"A miracle field is basically a field made of synthetic rubber so that people with disabilities and wheel chairs can play on these fields," Norman said.
Miracle fields are used around the country as part of the Miracle League. In which Norman says they are getting help from. To learn more about the Miracle League organization click here.
The first phase of the project will cost roughly $1 million. Norman says the Foundation already has about 70 percent of the needed funds from previous fundraisers. The City of Rock Hill has also invested $550,000 for the parking lot and restrooms.
Phase two and three are expected to be finished in the next three to five years, according to Norman. Phase two would consist of the second Miracle field and two multi-purpose fields. They hope to eventually be able to host regional and even national Special Olympics competitions at the Miracle Park.
Phase three would include a retail section, including a coffee shop that employs and is mostly run by people with disabilities.
"We want to create our own environment where people with disabilities can hold a job just like everyone else," Norman said.
The entire cost of the project is expected to be $6 million.
For more information about Miracle Park click here.
Executive Director of Max Abilities of York County, a state-funded organization that helps people with disabilities, Mary Poole says she has been waiting 12 years for something like this to come to York County. Poole is mother to five adopted children who all have a form of Down's Syndrome. She says the Miracle League will help her 11-year-old son have fun, despite his challenges with ADHD.
She says the Miracle fields will allow her daughter, who was formerly wheel-chair bound and now struggles with walking, participate.
"She would do better with a surface that didn't have a lot of lines in it, the surface that Miracle Park is trying to build will take away those barriers, it makes a safer surface for her," Poole said. "I can't tell you how excited I am for this, this is a dream."
With Winthrop's support for the Miracle Park, Norman adds that it offers a neat opportunity for education and special education majors to get hands on experience.
"What this does is it provides an opportunity for their education students and their special education students to participate when it's all built, and that's what we intend to do partner with Winthrop to allow their students to create programs and let them intern, help out, volunteer," Norman said.