Greece, Endless Highway partner for playground project
Endless Highway Inc., a Rochester-based nonprofit organization that expands access to inclusive experiences and adaptive equipment for children with physical disabilities, recently launched Build to Include.
This consulting, planning and fundraising program is led by the Endless Highway team, including founder Rob Tortorella and Caralie Fennessey, a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and certified inclusivity assessor with a master’s degree in integrative design.
The initiative is a springboard for a long-term commitment to expanding areas of inclusive play across Monroe County and beyond by fundraising for and installing accessible, inclusive equipment.
The first Build to Include project launches a $50,000 community fundraising campaign to purchase and install the area’s first We-Go-Round in the town of Greece. This ground-level merry-go-round structure features wide openings for child and adult wheelchair navigation, and seating, standing and parking areas inside. Rooftop shade, a built-in speed control mechanism and easily wipeable surface materials provide additional safety for participants of all ages and abilities to play on the structure together.
“The installation of the We-Go-Round is a ground-breaking project for Monroe County and the greater movement for inclusion,” Tortorella said. “As a father who uses a wheelchair for mobility, I experienced the limitations of standard playground equipment when I would take my daughter to the park, but could not play with her. Playgrounds with structures like the We-Go-Round will transform experiences for kids and families of all abilities and ages.”
The first campaign and installation is a collaboration with the town of Greece, philanthropist Santii Patel and playground companies Landscape Structures and Parkitects.
The partnership was inspired by Patel’s efforts in late 2019 and early 2020 to raise money to purchase a wheelchair-accessible swing for her neighborhood park. She noticed that kids using wheelchairs couldn’t play on a majority of the standard playground equipment and decided to make sure that every child can “have fun and feel the wind in their hair.”
The project is slated to finish this summer with help from town Supervisor Bill Reilich and Peter O’Brien, director of Parks and Recreation.
“My team and I always look for ways to think outside of the box. Today, we want to grow that box,” Reilich said. “We want to help pave the way for a playground that is not only accessible, but one that is inclusive. Inclusive play is a powerful experience that impacts childhood development, family bonding and social perspectives.”