All My Friends, Inc. is a non-profit organization run by volunteers. Our mission is to ensure the highest quality of life for individuals with differing abilities and their families through advocacy, community collaborations and socialization opportunities. Our goal is to ensure that every child, adult, parent, sibling or friend who is impacted by a disability feels included in our community in mind, body, spirit and social growth. All My Friends is all-inclusive of every person despite their abilities or disabilities.
Playground project gets a muddy start
October 02, 2019
Centennial Park work on All My Friends venue starts after weather-related delays
By JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff
Construction is finally underway in Grafton’s Centennial Park for an all-inclusive playground that has been in the works for three years.
Grafton Parks and Recreation Department crews began removing the equipment of an existing playground in the park on Sept. 9 to clear the way for All My Friends Playground.
“Unfortunately, Mother Nature has not been very kind to us with all the rain. We need her to get on our side,” playground organizer Dianne Dyer said.
The goal was to install all the equipment by the end of the month through a community build, Dyer said, but the build is now expected to occur in November.
“Getting all the equipment in is our No. 1 goal,” she said.
Dyer said a grand opening is planned for next spring after the playground surface and safety fencing is installed at the 13,544-square-foot playground, which will have adaptive equipment and technology for children with special needs.
“This whole playground was designed for children with special needs,” Dyer said. “We met with occupational therapists and really narrowed down what would work best for the kids and stimulate their interest, learning and social skills.”
Dyer said the surface installation has been pushed to spring because recent temperatures aren’t conducive for the work.
All equipment has been funded through donations, but Dyer said she still needs funds for the surface and fence. The total cost of the project is about $375,000.
“We’re pretty close on the flooring, and we’re making a push for the safety fencing,” Dyer said.
Benefactors who donate $100 to the cause will have their name engraved on a fence picket. So far, Dyer has received donations for more than 400 pickets.
Dyer and co-organizer Donna Howarth began making plans for the playground three years ago because Dyer’s daughter Cassie, who has autism, wanted somewhere she and her friends of all abilities could play together. Cassie is now 19 and a student at Cedarburg High School.
The equipment from the former playground at Centennial Park will be moved to a neighborhood park in the Shady Hollow subdivision in the spring, village officials said.
Dyer said seeing the project start to shape up is a humbling experience.
“I’ve been so blessed to have a wonderful community, friends and family that have trusted me and kept pushing me when I wanted to give up,” Dyer said.
“I can’t wait to thank them all. Without them, this playground would not be happening.”
History of the Organization
All My Friends Inc. began in 2011 under the name “Living Life with Autism”. Our Founder and President (Dianne) of the organization has a daughter (Cassie) who was diagnosed with Autism in 2005 at the young age of 4 years old. At that time, there were limited resources available to families with a special needs child for socialization and recreation purposes. Dianne found herself leaving her career (as many parents of special needs children must do) to provide care for her child. Dianne knew that she wanted to do something for children like Cassie to improve their quality of life, and that’s when Living Life with Autism was born.Our organization does not have a paid staff or consultants. Instead, it consists of a volunteer Board of Directors, volunteer Administration and a volunteer grant writer. As we are a new organization and working on getting established in the community, it is imperative that all the financial support received goes back into the organization, providing the ability to serve individuals immediately rather than creating a wait time for services.