Family builds fully wheelchair accessible playgrounds in South Jersey

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Thursday, August 22, 2019
Family builds accessible playgrounds in South Jersey
Family builds accessible playgrounds in South Jersey. Beccah Hendrickson has more on Action News at 5 p.m. on August 21, 2019.

DELRAN TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- When Jim Cummings visits this playground, he says he can still hear his grandson, Jake's, voice. Jake had a heart condition and passed away from complications when he was two years old.

"He was literally on his death bed, had two strokes, and was in, what the doctor's told us, terrible pain, but when you walked in the room, Jake smiled and waved at you," said Cummings.

His family wanted to make sure the boy's legacy lived on in his happy place, the playground.

"Unfortunately, there was no playground in South Jersey where he could play on the apparatus," said Cummings.

So they decided to design their own and call it "Jake's Place."

The second of its kind opened in Delran Township, Burlington County this summer.

"This park was something we wanted to have for our community, we wanted the rest of the county to come here and see the accessibility," said Ken Paris, mayor of Delran Township.

In order to make it accessible, the construction team started with designing the structures. For example, all the entrances have ramps so any kid, or adult for that matter, can use it.

"I was born with spina bifida, so that's a birth defect that impacted my mobility. I use braces and crutches to walk," said Arthur Aston, the executive director of Build Jake's Place.

When he visits the park, he likes to try out the equipment he helped design.

"I never would've imagined a time where a playground would be fully wheelchair accessible like the ones that we build," he said.

Now, Aston Cummings, and their team have a vision to build one of these parks in every community in New Jersey.

"All these problems we see, kids don't see. They dissolve on a playground," said Cummings.