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Children's Park Blooms with Decorative ConcreteMcCarthy Concrete Creates a Centerpiece for Disabled Children
South Windsor, Connecticut has created something special for its children and decorative concrete is an integral part. My Friend's Place, a Boundless Playground, is a park and playground where "everyone can laugh, play, learn, and grow together, regardless of ability." The park is designed to be completely wheelchair and handicap accessible—"all the swings, all the playgrounds, everything," says Ben McCarthy of McCarthy Concrete, who did all the concrete work in the park at no cost to the town.
This park is not only a wonderful facility for physically challenged children, but also for parents, grandparents, and caregivers with mobility issues. The town's website states, "During the day, our special needs children learn, play, and interact alongside their typically-abled peers. Why would we exclude these children at the end of the day just because the school bell rings?"
What the town's website calls the "jewel" of the playground is the sensory garden, designed with the assistance of two master gardeners. Surrounding a round patio are flowers and different things all at wheelchair elevation that the kids can touch and smell and feel. "They wanted a centerpiece for this radius area," McCarthy said, "so we created a flower."
When the project started, the town didn't know what they wanted for paving in the sensory garden. "They came to me and said they wanted to do something in this area. They mentioned pavers or stamped concrete but I had this idea and I asked them to give it a shot and they agreed. I sat down with the architect and worked it all out. Although I've done things with similar complexity before, not on such a small scale."
The flower's colors come from Scofield's Lithochrome Tintura stains, a water-based system that is a recent addition to Scofield's product line. "I made three different stencils for the petals," McCarthy said, "and laid it out and sprayed them with a base color and overlapped them with another color. For the center with all the little seeds, I made a pie-shaped stencil and worked my way around and faded it out at the edges. It took some time to do the layout." McCarthy sealed the surface with Scofield's Selectseal-W, a clear acrylic-polyurethane sealer.
The park opened July 2 to rave reviews, especially for the flower. "They don't know exactly what it is," said McCarthy, "but they really like it."
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