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Local park dedicates day to special needs children

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GONZALES - For twenty years, the Rotary Club of Gonzales has hosted “Kids in the Park” an event that celebrates children with special needs and allows them to have carefree fun for a day.

For the third year in a row, the Rotary Club held the event at Kidz Kove Discovery Park. It's a place where special needs children of all ages can come and simply be themselves without judgment or feeling left out.

The million dollar specially-equipped park was built and put together with the help of the community.

“It's so special to me, I have a special needs grandson,” Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux said.

Seven years ago, Mayor Arceneaux played a part in the park’s development.

“My wife and I jumped in with both feet when we heard that some other ladies wanted to get involved and put this together,” said Arceneaux.

Those ladies turned out to be mothers of special needs children. They would go on to raise nearly $1 million for the park.

“It allows all kids of all disabilities to get to play with each other, and it's just amazing,” said Kristen Gregoire, a special education teacher.

Besides the park’s unique design and sensory equipment, it's getting more attention for the environment it's creating.

“This is where they can come out here and have fun... Nobody to bother them and nobody to tease them,” said Tiffany Johnson, a special needs bus driver.

And to celebrate another year of “Kids in the Park”, a countless amount of teachers, aids, and volunteers joined in on the fun.

“Because you look at these kids out here, and they look like normal kids. Some of them are in a wheelchair, which anybody can be in a wheelchair... They are normal kids that want to be loved," Johnson said.

The mayor says he plans to keep the park going for as long as possible.

“So long as I am around, we will keep this park running and do whatever we can to help our local citizens out,” Arceneaux said.


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