BELCHERTOWN, Mass. (WWLP) – A Belchertown mother has been working for three years to build an inclusive playground to honor her daughter’s memory, and her dream could be realized this fall.
Vicky Martins-Auffrey has raised a quarter million dollars, so far, to build “Jessica’s Boundless Playground” in Belchertown. Martins-Auffrey told 22News it will be the largest and only 100% accessible playground in New England.
On Wednesday night, she sought donations of material, manpower and equipment from contractors, excavators and landscapers. They met in the Library of the Chestnut Hill Community School where an artist’s rendering of Jessica’s Boundless Playground was on display.
Martins-Auffrey told 22News she’s been fund-raising for three years, and has raised $250,000 so far. She’s confident of winning grants and more donations to reach the $475,000 goal, which includes the poured rubber surfacing, she said.
Martins-Auffrey’s daughter Jessica died after graduating Belchertown High School in 2009. She was 19-years-old.
“She was wheelchair bound,” said Martins-Auffrey, “and she was never able to access a piece of equipment on any playground. And we are building this playground so that no child ever has to sit and watch all of her friends, or his friends just play, and they’re not able to utilize that.”
The plan is to break ground for Jessica’s Boundless Playground on Monday, May 12th to prepare the site, with hopes to complete construction in one weekend September 13th and 14th.
The playground will be located on the grounds of the Chestnut Hill Community School, across from the long-closed Belchertown State School.