SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (News-Leader) – If a proposed $500 million south Springfield development becomes reality, it will include a 5,000-square foot “Batpark” that maximizes Ozarks floodplain topography in order to create a space for “inclusive play.”
The idea is to create a park intended for every child, including those living with disabilities or on the autism spectrum, said Springfield Batman (real name: Derek Smith), along with a developer tied to the project. Smith said he thinks the space would even be helpful for some adults with disabilities.
Smith adopted the Springfield Batman persona several years ago as a way to help kids in local hospitals and promote charity work, he said. He grew up with a hearing disability and experienced chronic migraines.
“Growing up,” Smith said, “I spent many hours in the hospital.”
Now, Smith is asking the community to raise at least $150,000 – to be matched dollar-for-dollar by Tennessee-based Play & Park Structures, which would build the Batpark play equipment – to pay for a design that would be wheelchair-accessible and include “sensory” elements. It would cost about $300,000 total.
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