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The Jewish Community Center (The J) is pleased to announce that a new, 8,000 square-foot early childhood playground will be ready for children of all abilities in a matter of weeks at its Marilyn Fox Building in Chesterfield. Upon its completion, it will be one of the only accessible early childhood playgrounds in the St. Louis area.

“This has been a dream project of ours for several years,” said Lynn Wittels, President & CEO of The J. “We are grateful to our generous funders for making this experience available to our Early Childhood Center families and to families in our community.

The new playground was made possible thanks to a lead gift from the Tilles Foundation, with additional funds donated by Marie and Stuart Block, Marilyn and Ambassador Sam Fox, and Trio Foundation of St. Louis.

The playground, which will be accessible to children of all abilities, was designed by Spaces for Play, a company that specializes in early childhood playgrounds. It was designed with input from the J’s Early Childhood Center directors, Inclusion program coordinator, and the Tilles Foundation, which helps deserving children in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area who are in need of physical or educational help.

“We were really excited to provide funding for this great project,” said Larry Linkon, Trustee, The Tilles Foundation. “Everyone involved can be proud that we’ll be providing a meaningful experience for children of all abilities for years to come.”

The expanded playground design includes new play structures for pre-K children and toddlers, and an infant-toddler play area, a garden space with a watering area, a water feature for infants and toddlers, and a drinking fountain.  Nature, music, art, sensory and dramatic play components will also be added.

“All play areas have modifications incorporated so anyone can participate,” said Amy Flesher, Director of The J’s Early Childhood Center at the Marilyn Fox Building. “For example, the art easel is built so a child can approach it on foot or in a wheelchair. We want all children to feel a part of the group. Children with disabilities will be able to participate alongside typically developing children. All children will be able to experience empathy because they’re able to interact with children who are different from themselves.”

The playground will be used primarily by children in J youth programs and camps; however, The J plans to make it available for local families and for open play days for children with disabilities.

The J plans to host the first community open play day and open house immediately following the ribbon-cutting on Sunday, May 15 at 10:30am. All are welcome to attend and stay and play.

The J is an interactive, multi-generational gathering place that offers a variety of programs and services to both the St. Louis Jewish community, and the community at large. The Jewish Community Center provides educational, cultural, social, Jewish identity-building and recreational programming and offers two, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, all designed to promote physical and spiritual growth. Everyone is welcome at the J.