Harper's Playground continues to bloom in the Rose City - KPTV - FOX 12

Harper's Playground continues to bloom in the Rose City

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

It took years to pool enough funds to bring it all together, but now that Harper's Playground has been full of laughter and inclusive play for all bodies in north Portland, it is time to spread the love to other children around town.

Harper's father, founder and executive director of the nonprofit, is thinking outside of the sandbox, and thanking the Timbers Army for their castle of charity. 

"There are a lot of people that have experienced the segregation of the typical playground," said Cody Goldberg. 

Arbor Lodge is a destination park in the Rose City but it wasn't always that way. 

"It really struck us right away when our daughter tried to walk into the wood chips, she just couldn't move in her sweet little walker," said Goldberg. 

Goldberg and his wife April live in the Kenton neighborhood along with their daughters Lennon and Harper, and moms have the best ideas.

"She actually made me one of those honey-do lists. Take out the trash, I'm sure there were other things on it, and one of the things on the list was call the parks department and get the ball rolling, do something," said Goldberg. 

Father knows best. 

"People with disabilities are left out of a lot of things in this world and we found that the playground was sort of a Trojan horse to get this subject spoken about in schools and the workplace," said Goldberg. 
                
Harper's Playground has been wheelchair and walker accessible since November of 2012. 

"We convinced everybody to help build a park for Harper, but in essence it really was Harper building this park for everyone else ... seeing everyone playing in the park around her, that's the most beautiful thing," said Goldberg. 

The beautiful game is involved as well. "Timber Jim" Serrill and the club itself first piqued the interest of the Timbers Army into what Goldberg was striving to do with Harper's Playground.  Now, the two share a swing of unity. 

"If you look back to what we are trying to do, if you want to be Timbers Army, you already are," said Scott Van Swearingen, Timbers Army board president. "It's sort of 'spread the love' and inclusiveness. If you look at what he’s trying to do and what Harper's Playground is trying to do, is inclusiveness … there's no limitations. Everyone is equal, and I think that just matches our ethos perfect."

Goldberg said, "No matter what your background is, if you are willing to stand for 90 minutes and cheer you are welcome there. Just like at Harper's Playground – if you want to play, come on in."

Various scarf projects have brought the Timbers Army's sizable, charitable donation to above $100,000 in the past six or so years, including a recent check of $25,000 towards Goldberg's next ventures with Harper's Playground.

"Once Couch Park started movement we decided we wanted to do something special for them so we had some funds from an MLS Cup celebration, 'No Pity scarf' we made and we decided we wanted to give Harper's Playground, and Couch Park specifically since it's so close to our stadium and fan lot … we wanted to split the proceeds half with them," said Van Swearingen. 

"it really is more than the money. The money is huge and it really helps, but there's a power to the Army's blessing and their support … People around the city are paying attention to what the Army cares about," said Goldberg.  

While another Harper's Playground is set to slide open in May of next year at Gateway Discovery Park in Northeast, it's the Couch Park project next to the Metropolitan Learning Center that still needs an assist. 

"Couch Park is different too because it an inner city park ... each one is going to be really unique," said Goldberg. 

Half of the $500,000 has been raised for the Couch site with the target of reaching their goal by end of December. 

"This is way beyond just the playground," said Goldberg. "We should be more playful as people and be more inclusive to people.” 

In all, the Timbers Army has contributed some $115,000. If you'd like to help, visit HarpersPlayground.org

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