Supporters of a universal playground in Clayton are closer to their fundraising goal after a local industry pledged $50,000 for the project.
Automatic Rolls of North Carolina, which bakes soft sandwich rolls at a plant just southeast of town, announced the donation last week. The pledge moves a public-private partnership raising money for the Celebration Playground closer to its $600,000 goal.
“We view Celebration Playground as a significant new amenity for all the citizens of Clayton and Johnston County, as well as the families of our employees,” said Richard Tommy, plant manager at Automatic Rolls. “It’s another reason for us all to feel great about living and working in Clayton.”
Automatic Rolls of North Carolina is a division of Maryland-based Northeast Foods, which has been a supplier for the McDonald’s restaurant chain since 1965. At the Clayton plant, the company bakes soft sandwich rolls for McDonald’s in the Carolinas and Virginia.
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The Town of Clayton and the Clayton Community Recreational Foundation are raising money for the new playground, which will be built at East Clayton Community Park.
With surfaces and equipment accessible by foot, to wheelchairs and other assistive technology, the playground will be accessible to both able-bodied children and those with special needs. It will feature three main areas: Create, Celebrate and Contemplate, each of which will serve a different purpose.
For instance, Contemplate will be a more quiet space, perhaps for children who are easily stressed or overstimulated.
Previous contributions include $4,000 from the Archway Foundation and donations from Walmart, Sam’s Club and Sheetz Inc. Caterpillar, whose Product Development Center is near the proposed playground, graded land at the site as an in-kind donation to the project.
Specific elements of the playground design include:
▪ A fort-like tower that will serve as the centerpiece of the Celebrate area. A barrier-free spiral path will provide one way to access the elevated structure. Inside the fort, a large, open space will hopefully facilitate interaction among all children.
▪ Safety paths in each area will provide a softer, “fall-attenuating” surface. The paths will also give more freedom for children to explore other playground features, like a custom-made dolphin or boulders that kids could climb on in the Celebrate area.
▪ A craft house in the Create area will provide space for small-group activities and park programs. Designers say the space will be purposely small to provide a nook for kids who need a quieter space.
▪ A bird blind will allow children to look through “peep holes” and observe birds in a forest canopy.
▪ Pull-up bars and ladybugs located at ground level in the Contemplate area. Designers say these features will give wheelchair users a chance to build their upper-body motor skills and provide therapy.
▪ A curtain of water positioned at a child’s seated height, which will invite users to touch or watch.
For more information, go to www.townofclaytonnc.org/Parks-and-Recreation/universal-playground.aspx.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104