The City of Franklin and a host of partners have announced a fundraising campaign for a long-needed addition to the community’s parks system — Franklin’s first inclusive playground. The project, named Ellie G’s Dreamworld, includes three acres of walking trails, play structures for children of varying abilities and ADA-accessible amenities.
“Diversity and inclusion are core values in our community, and the public and private sectors are always working to find new ways to ensure that every citizen and visitor to Franklin, Tennessee, has equal opportunities to work, live and play here,” said Franklin Mayor Ken Moore.
The project will be housed in the Southeast Municipal Complex on Carothers Parkway. The first phase will include the playground, which will be four to five times larger than Tinkerbelle playground at Pinkerton Park. Park amenities include a pavilion with ADA-accessible restrooms and shaded structures throughout the property. A second phase will add sports fields, including lacrosse and pickleball, an outdoor fitness area and an amphitheater.
Ellie G’s Dreamworld is named for Elliot Grace Castro, who was diagnosed at birth with Rhizomelic Chondrodysplasia Punctata (RCDP), a very rare and terminal genetic disorder related to dwarfism. Against all odds, Ellie G continued to showcase strength and radiate positivity to all who knew her until she passed away in 2019 at the age of four. Her supporters lobbied to have RCDP added to the Tennessee Early Intervention System list of disorders, making resources available in the future for families dealing with an RCDP diagnosis.
“For children with special needs and their families to have a place where they can all play together – while keeping Ellie G’s memory alive – it’s amazing,” said Samantha Castro, Ellie G’s mother. “When you lose someone, especially such a young child, you worry their memory will be forgotten. Ellie G’s memory will stay in Franklin forever.”
The community organizations aim to raise $1.5 million of the total $3 million cost of the addition, and Friends of Franklin Parks announced that it would match every donation, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000. Community members can become a ‘Leaf Sponsor’ for just $100, making playtime more accessible and more fun for future generations of Franklin families.
Donations to support Ellie G’s Dreamworld can be made quickly and easily by:
- Texting the word ‘inclusive’ to 615-551-4465
- Making a check payable to Friends of Franklin Parks, P.O. Box 549, Franklin, TN 37065
For more information or to stay up to date on the playground’s progress, follow the campaign using #ChangeTheWayWePlay, follow @friendsoffranklinparks on social media or visit friendsoffranklinparks.org/inclusive-playground.