Wonder Spelen brings inclusive playground to Pella

A model image of the proposed playground engineered by Snyder & Associates.

With the help of the community, an inclusive playground will be developed to enrich the lives of Pella’s youth.

Wonder Spelen, meaning “miracle play” in Dutch, is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization created in partnership by the Pella Kiwanis Club and the city of Pella to develop a truly inclusive play space.

The organization has worked with top playground designers to develop a plan that includes interactive playground equipment, accessible bathrooms and sensory play equipment in Kiwanis Park.

The playground goes beyond wheel-chair accessibility, including a variety of ways to interact with the equipment. The sensory play equipment is designed for the unique sensory processing needs of children on the autism spectrum, offering the opportunity to play independently alongside others without getting overwhelmed by the noise and stimulation of a rowdy playground.

The organization is currently working to raise funds for the project, which is estimated at $2,048,100. So far, the organization has raised approximately $770,000 with the help of donations and a $25,000 Impact Grant from the Pella Community Foundation. The city of Pella will donate $320,000 to the project.

The idea for the playground came from Kiwanis and honorary Wonder Spelen board member Fred Kreykes. He says the club usually has money left over from selling poffertjes during Tulip Time, and he was inspired by other community’s efforts to make their own inclusive playgrounds a reality.

“I saw it happening in other places, like Knoxville,” says Kreykes. “I give them tremendous credit, because they had a much smaller club and far-fewer resources, but they have a very nice playground near Young’s Park … I kept hearing about it, and I kept thinking, ‘why isn’t Pella doing something like that?’”

Kreykes says Pella is known for being a welcoming community, especially when it comes to children with disabilities.

“I’m convinced that it will make Pella a more attractive place for families to move to,” says Kreykes. “It would also be a destination for people outside of the community to come visit.”

Kiwanis and Wonder Spelen board member Mark Wiskus says the project fits perfectly in the Kiwanis’ mission statement. He also says local businesses have mentioned the playground will be an essential recruiting tool.

“The big question is, ‘why shouldn’t every child have the ability to play in the same type of environment that every other kid gets to do?’” says Wiskus. “I think it will add more value to this community.”

The project is in the infant stages of phase 1, with the organization’s purchase of the former De Blomen Hof property and site preparation. This phase will also include the playground itself, restrooms, parking and primary sidewalks. It’s estimated at $1,274,000.

Phase 2 will include playground enhancements, and phase 3 will put the finishing touches on parking inclusivity and improvements. A combined total for both phases is approximately $774,100. The completion date for all three phases is slated for fall 2021.

To make a donation, visit the Wonder Spelen Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/wonderspelen or mail donations to PO Box 671, Pella, Iowa. If your business is interested in making a donation and would like more information, contact Mark Wiskus by phone at (641) 628-1505 or by email at mawiskus@wiskusgroup.com.

Emily Hawk can be reached at ehawk@pellachronicle.com or by calling the newsroom at {span}641-628-3882.{/span}

Emily Hawk can be reached at ehawk@pellachronicle.com or by calling the newsroom at {span}641-628-3882.{/span}

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