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All-abilities playground goes up in Newark

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
Preston Buenaga and Deb Buenaga at the site of the future playground

A volunteer crew representing Discover Financial Services helped prep playground equipment at the Newark Reservoir on a sweltering Tuesday this week.

Preston’s Playground is jump-starting construction with some help from the community. Groups of volunteers from Sallie Mae, the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences and Fusion Fitness will help throughout the week.


Preston’s Playground will be one hundred percent accessible, says co-founder Deb Buenaga.

It’ll have wheelchair-accessible rubber paving instead of mulch, and equipment including an adaptive merry-go-round, swings and monkey bars.


Credit Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
Newark Parks and Recreation staff led construction Tuesday

Buenaga started the project three years ago after visiting an accessible playground in another state with her son, Preston, who has mitochondrial disease.

She’s excited about the new one in Newark.


“Instead of Preston watching everybody, they’ll be able to play side by side,” she said.

Buenaga’s cofounder, Nic DeCaire of Fusion Fitness, says it’ll be the first completely accessible playground in the state.

Volunteers from Discover prep playground equipment for installation

“It’s not a handicapped playground, it’s a playground that has no barriers ,” he said, “It’s just a place where anybody can come, they can access the whole entire playground, … but not feel limited. ”

Newark Mayor Polly Sierer joined volunteers to help with construction Tuesday morning.


“This certainly is an amenity to our community that will be a destination point for families that have kids with disabilities,” she said.


The City of Newark donated the land for the playground and $130,000 for water and sewer connection.

Credit Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
Discover volunteers pose with Preston Buenaga and playground co-founders Deb Buenaga and Nic DeCaire

Joe Spadafino of Newark Parks and Rec says the playground will be the largest in the city.

The $600,000 project is also being funded in part through grants from the Longwood Foundation and the State of Delaware Outdoor Recreation Parks and Trails grant.

A ribbon cutting for the playground is planned for August 29th.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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