As seen in the Hudson Star-Observer, September 29, 2016:
The late Al Weitkamp, a teacher for more than 30 years, always held children close to his heart according to those who knew him. So it is likely he would be more than pleased about the latest addition to the city park named in his honor.
Last week children, their families, friends of the Weitkamps and community supporters gathered at the park to officially open Hudson’s first “universal playground,” also purported to be one of the few in the area.
The playground was the brainchild of the Hudson Hospital Foundation, which funded the project along with the city of Hudson and community members.
Kari Rambo, president of the Hudson Hospital Foundation who spoke at the playground opening, said the playground was the result of listening to the community about what they thought Hudson needed.
“Of course there is the healthy side of a playground — getting children outdoors and getting them physically active. But this playground is more than that. This is about providing a place for integrated play for children of all abilities as well as to the adults in their lives whether it is a child in a wheelchair or a grandparent who uses a walker. We wanted to tear down the walls that separate us from one another. This is a place for all of our extraordinary kids of all abilities,” Rambo said.
Rambo thanked Zappa Brothers of North Hudson who acted as the project’s construction manager, Game Time Inc., the playground equipment provider, city parks employees and more than 40 volunteers who made the playground a reality. A sign acknowledging those who supported the project will be permanently installed.
City Council member Bill Alms spoke at the opening, and thanked the foundation and all those who contributed to the project. Alms, who has a son with special needs, said he was proud to be part of a community that would provide for all of its children.
“This playground is not about kids with disabilities but about kids of all abilities playing side by side,” he said.
All the “fun stuff” is up and running. All that remains to be completed of the project is the play area’s surface that will allow for complete mobility for children and adults. According to the foundation, about 800 children in the Hudson School District have a special needs diagnosis.
The Hudson Hospital Foundation provided more than $100,000 toward the cost of the project.
Weitkamp park is located off Hanley Road at 648 O’Neil Road.