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    Judge’s Comment: “This project is an inspiration. Designing for universal accessibility requires foresight and careful planning. Kudos to the development team!”
 

The John Mark Stallings Special Needs Accessible Playground of Morgan County, Ala., is designed for the 1,700 differently abled children in the area, but all kids are welcome.

The SNAP project was started in December 2006. Designed with a dry playground and a splash area, it is being built in stages and can serve as a model for other communities.

The spraypark portion was completed in 2010, thanks to extensive fund-raising efforts. Universally accessible waterfeatures comply with ADA requirements and include arches, sprays, and colorful play features, all controlled by a state-of-the-art system.

SNAP is named after the son of former Alabama football coach Gene Stallings. John Mark Stallings, who had Down Syndrome, was a familiar face at the Alabama sidelines during football season, when his father was the Crimson Tide coach. John Mark died Aug. 2, 2008, at the age of 46. Doctors said when he was born that John Mark would not live past the age of 4.

Open to the public free of charge, SNAP has been funded through donations, grants and in-kind services, and totally administered by volunteers. There are no on-site attendants, but the complex is monitored by video at an adjacent parks and recreation facility. Coverage in the local newspaper and promotional materials given out at fund-raising events have helped make more parents aware of the spraypark.