Bright Spot Inclusive Playground still in need of donations


The Bright Spot Inclusive Playground is nearing completion, but more donations are needed to finish the project.

According to John Barrett, director of Culpeper County Parks and Recreation, the project needs funds for additional parking and incidental fees.

“The Bright Spot Inclusive Playground Committee is working diligently to close the funding gap,”

Barrett said. “Still, there are needs that if realized will provide an all-inclusive facility that will have the community beaming with pride.”

The Bright Spot broke ground March 11 and is slated to be finished in the fall. It will provide a swings for children with differing abilities while also providing regular playground equipment at the Culpeper County Sports Complex.

Barrett said the response from the community has been impressive.

“Community businesses and individuals that have been contacted for donations, have acted handsomely towards supporting the Bright Spot inclusive playground,” Barrett said. “This is a total community effort, to create a play environment that promotes disability awareness and establishes a platform for children of all abilities to play together.”

The playground idea was first broached by the Bright family as a way to avoid traveling to an inclusive playground for their daughter Leanne. It grew as other parents expressed interest in a community survey as an opportunity for children to explore their abilities together.

Franco Calabrese, co-chair of The Bright Spot Inclusive Playground committee and the adaptive physical education teacher at Culpeper County Public Schools said there was a definite need for the park.

“We’ve almost reached our goal,” Calabrese. “We’ve been lucky, we’ve had a lot of generous donations from people in the community.”

He cited a flea market fundraiser at the beginning of August that was well attended and help raise funds for the equipment.

“The number of people that showed up to the flea market just showed the willingness of everyone to see what’s going on with the playground and to see what they can do,” Calabrese said. “Learning what an inclusive playground is and spreading the word, it’s just been a positive response.”

Carissa Miranda, special education teacher at Emerald Hill Elementary, said that she has heard from many in the community that are excited for an inclusive playground.

“I think the cool thing about the inclusive playground is that it’s truly inclusive,” Miranda said. “It’s a space for everyone. I think it’s going to be a great spot for anyone to use. Anyone can play, they might play differently, but they can all play together.”

Sandy Bright, co-chair of the Bright Spot committee, said in March she was overwhelmed by the support the park has received.

It started with Sandy’s interest to put in a wheelchair swing at one of the local parks.

“You know you hope that the community gets involved and the environment has been very good and surprising,” Bright said. “There’s not a lot for children like Leanne to do, so this will be great and something I know she will enjoy.”

For more information about how to donate to help the Bright Spot, contact John Barrett at

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Jeff Say is the editor for the Culpeper Times. He can be reached at