SALINAS, Calif - Progress is being made on a second Central Coast park catering to all children, regardless of physical disabilities. Tatum’s Tree House is set to open in Toro Park next fall. The first park, Tatum’s Garden, opened in Salinas in 2013. It has since become so popular, another one was approved by the county. Now, it’s all about raising the $2 million needed to build it.
“Seeing how much the community has responded to it (Tatum’s Garden), we wanted to provide another area within our county that gives this amazing, accessible feel in a playground,” said Amanda Bakker, with Tatum’s Garden Foundation.
Bakker’s daughter, 7-year old Tatum, has spina bifida and is the inspiration for the two parks.
“When Tatum got her first wheelchair a few years ago, it was really the first time we realized our family was going to have a hard time accessing playgrounds,” said Bakker. “That was our initial motivation. We are just one family of hundreds in our area like us.”
The new, 30,000 square-foot Tatum’s Tree House was approved this summer by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. The plans are a bit different than Tatum’s Garden. The new park will have a woodland and nature inspired theme. There are also some new features, including a zip line, where a child with special needs can be strapped in and will be able to race against their peers.
“I think it is a brilliant concept because there is no reason why any child should be excluded from going out and enjoying what nature offers,” said Wendy Bird, who spoke to KION while playing with her two grandchildren at Tatum’s Garden.
Last month, the foundation raised about $150,000. It still has a ways to go until it meets the $2 million goal, but Bakker is feeling optimistic.
“I think it will be just a combination of lots of different efforts, everything from grant writing to a few larger events but also small, community events and certainly opportunities for anyone in the community to participate and give,” she said.
You can donate to the Tatum’s Tree House HERE.