The Wilkes- Barre Special Needs Project

Creating Fun and Safe Spaces for ALL Children to Play Together

By Amber Nevin, Macaroni Kid Wilkes-Barre Publisher October 15, 2021

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and is a great time to celebrate people with Down Syndrome! Children with Down Syndrome, as well as children of all different abilities, deserve to have a fun and safe place to play with other children. In order to help meet this community need The Wilkes- Barre Special Needs Project has been created.

The Wilkes- Barre Special Needs Project is being headed up by Wilkes-Barre Mayor, George Brown and a mayor's committee made up of volunteers. Most of the volunteers on the committee are special needs family members, who understand the importance of this need and are eager to help this project come to life. Mayor Brown himself is passionate about the special needs community and has previously hosted eggs hunts and other events especially catered towards the special needs community. The project is aiming to add special needs accommodations and equipment to the 18 parks in the City of Wilkes-Barre and ensure each park is offering a fun, safe an inclusive place for EVERYONE to play together. 

The first focus of The Wilkes- Barre Special Needs Project is Wilkes-Barre's largest park; Kirby Park. Kirby Park is a 52 acre park centrally located in the Wilkes-Barre Area, that provides a great outdoor space for many local families to enjoy. In order for Kirby Park to be a safe place for children and families with special needs there are a number of projects that need to take place. Paths need to be widened and expanded throughout the park for wheelchair accessibility, ADA playground equipment needs to be purchased and installed, and additional comfort facilities need to be added to service the special needs community. The overall goal of the project is to make special needs accommodations at each of the 18 parks across the city of Wilkes-Barre over the next 2 years. 

The project needs to raise $400,000 in order to make the needed updates to the park across the city of Wilkes-Barre. If you would like to make a donation to the Special Needs Playground Project you can do so through the Luzerne Foundation

    • Wilkes-Barre Special Needs Playground Fund
      Care of The Luzerne Foundation
      34 South River Street
      Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
      Make checks payable to “The Luzerne Foundation” and note “WB Playground Fund” in the memo. 

*Your gift is tax-deductible. The Luzerne Foundation will provide a receipt for tax purposes.

I had the special honor to discuss The Wilkes- Barre Special Needs Project directly with Mayor George Brown and was so excited to hear him speak so fondly and passionately about this project, that can have such a positive impact on our area. Mayor Brown commented: “We are meeting a need in the community to create special needs parks, integrated with our already existing parks. This will create fun and enjoyable spaces for all children to play together and be included.

Simon is a very special, local 2 year old with Down Syndrome. Simon and his family are very excited for the new opportunities for him to play with his brother and friends in our local parks after the improvements from The Wilkes- Barre Special Needs Project. Simon's family have organized a special fundraiser to help support the project: 

Getting down with Simon has teamed up with A Lil Something Extra and designed this amazing t-shirt. FIVE DOLLARS ($5) from every shirt will go to the The Wilkes- Barre Special Needs Project

Buy your shirt, Wear it proudly for Simon, AND help out this community project!


You can follow Simon's journey on his Facebook page Getting down with Simon.