Maria Ciao’s Project Made This Playground More Accessible

Image via General Recreation, Inc.

Maria Ciao

Maria Ciao earned a Girl Scout Humanitarian Award and the Girl Scout’s Gold Award for working to install accessible play equipment at North Park’s Flagstaff Grove playground in Allegheny County.

She was helped in her effort by General Recreation, Inc. of Newtown Square.

General Recreation doesn’t usually have an opportunity to work with young people passionate about a project so General Rec’s Curtis Bischof jumped at the chance, working closely with Maria and her family.

Maria Ciao felt the Flagstaff Grove playground could use some sensory elements and wooden bench upgrades.

She had worked with young people with autism at Glade Run Lutheran Services and knew how valuable playground accessibility could be.

Maria grew to understand the sensory challenges people faced with autism and how enriching differing cultural and outdoor activities were for them.

She drew on her past visit to a large sensory playground as inspiration for the new accessible play components at Flagstaff Grove.

She led fundraising and learned how to work with the various entities needed to make the playground improvements a reality.

During her fundraising effort, Maria connected with the Autism Society of Pittsburgh, who donated $5,000, and received additional funds from her church’s local council of the Knights of Columbus, as well as friends and family.

The family of Maria Ciao described Bischof as “phenomenal in his support.”

“He was instrumental with input, labor and time throughout the process. We couldn’t have done it without him,” recalls Gary Ciao, Maria’s father. “He helped us zero in on several cost-effective, high-caliber and long-lasting products.”

Added to the park were three Landscape Structures’ “Learning Wall” sensory play panels–Bongo Reach, Chimes, and Gear Panels, as well as durable, bright red and blue ANOVA benches and a trash can.

Bishop, with more than 25 years of experience leading community-build playground projects, managed the installation and guided the volunteers.

About General Recreation

General Recreation Inc. serves Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and has helped hundreds of community leaders and organizations build playgrounds that are safe, aesthetically pleasing and made to last.

General recreation project are supported by expert and trusted services, including site evaluation, playground design, installation and community build services.

Whether your playground will consist of outdoor playground at a pre-school or a large community playground, experienced commercial playground experts will help you every step of the way.

Find out more about the work of General Recreation.

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