Hundreds turn out to build wheelchair-accessible playground at Laurel Park

Children are quick to try out the new playground equipment at Laurel Park. Photos by Norman Schimmel

About 200 people turned out Saturday morning, June 2, to build a handicap-accessible playground and multi-generational exercise pods along a “play trail” at Laurel Park in Laurel, as a project of the Florida Orthopaedic Society.

Fraser Cobbe, a spokesman for the society, said about 83 surgeons and their families, plus representatives of various companies and community volunteers, participated in the event.

(From left) Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson, Dr. Adam Bright and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Longboat Key cut the ribbon to mark the formal opening of the park.

Dr. Adam Bright of Sarasota, president of the Florida Orthopaedic Society, had scheduled “Build a Playground Day” in conjunction with the organization’s annual meeting, held over the weekend at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota.

The initiative was designed as part of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ national focus on lowering the rate of childhood obesity.

“This commitment has manifested into a series of playground projects nationwide to encourage healthy lifestyles, exercise, and play for all generations regardless of disability or limitations,” the Florida Orthopaedic Community’s website ( says.

Bright had worked with staff of the Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Department, the Laurel Civic Association, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and other groups and medical practices to schedule the event.

The playground has been designed to encourage people of all ages to use it.