SAUK RAPIDS -- At an age where most of us aren't usually concerned with issues within our community, 14-year old Natalie Gerads of Sauk Rapids is working on a big community project.

Gerads, a Freshman at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School has been working for months on an adaptive playground concept. An adaptive playground is one that "promotes physical, cognitive, learning, visual and hearing experiences for all people."

She says her motivation for this project comes from a very personal place.

"I have a step-father with light sensitivity issues, as well as a brother who has a traumatic brain injury from a bus vs pedestrian accident, along with loved ones with autism and spina-bifida."

 

While the motivation stems from those dealing with disability and injury in her own life, Gerads says she wants the playground to be as much fun as possible for anyone who wants to use it. The playground is being designed with all ages in mind as well.

With the "all-ages" idea in place, Gerads wants to call it "Generations Playground".

Right now the playground is in its early stages, but Gerads says she's already meeting with the people in Sauk Rapids that can help get the project underway.

"Right now [we're] in the process of coming up with preliminary designs. I've had meetings with the planning committee and the city council, along with Todd Schultz and the Mayor."

 

She says former Sauk Rapids-Rice Superintendent Dan Bittman put her in contact with city officials after the failed referendum this May. Gerads playground was a part of the $86.9-million that voters decided against.

Some of the features Gerads wants to include in the Generations Playground are:

  • Sun-shaded play decks
  • Sensory play equipment
  • Chess tables
  • Ramps
  • Swings with enough space between them for people in wheelchairs to push loved ones on.

 

Gerads has also come up with several ideas for fundraising including grants, local clubs, and businesses. If you're interested in helping Gerads get her Generations Playground off the ground, contact the team at; generations_playground@hotmail.com.