Inclusive Playground For Respite Program

Oct 20, 2017


Auburn, NY – The playground is ready! Cayuga Centers maintenance workers have completed installation of swings, a fun hoop and other equipment specifically designed for people with physical disabilities in a playground at the agency’s 210 Osborne Street facility in Auburn.

Funds to purchase materials and equipment, and provide a fence to enclose the area have come from The Cayuga Community Fund, the Kiwanis Club of Auburn, from individual donors, and gifts in memory of James Mack. Funds raised by the Auburn Elks Lodge #474 were also used to purchase adaptive equipment for expansion of Cayuga Centers Respite programs, including the playground.


When attending the Weekday Respite program housed at this location, activities were limited to indoors because no outdoor recreational area accessible by people with physical disabilities formerly existed on the property. Program staff members previously transported participants to other community playgrounds but were constrained by time limits as parents arrive at different times to pick up their loved ones. Vice President of Services for People with Developmental Disabilities (SPwDD), Shannon Abate says, “the flexibility of not having to limit time spent on a playground in the community is a bonus!”

Individuals in the Day Habilitation and Weekend Respite programs from the agency’s nearby Fleming Street facility will also use the new playground. Respite is one aspect of the SPwDD Department, which also provides Medicaid Service Coordination and Day Habilitation. The respite programs address the need for regular relief from caregiving, which has a physical, emotional and financial impact on caregivers. Respite has been shown to help sustain family caregiver health and well-being, avoid or delay out-of-home placements, and reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect.

These programs contribute to the growth and positive well-being of the individual. Recreation is an important element of personal development and maintaining skills. In fact, swinging has been proven to be a crucial component of sensory integration therapy for individuals with autism disorders.

Abate praises the new playground, noting individuals who will utilize it gave input on options for equipment to be included. “For example, we have has an accessible swing, not something typically found at a public playground."

She continues, “As the level of oversight needed varies for each individual, the area is fenced in, giving program participants a bit more freedom to "run" without safety being an issue as it is at other playgrounds in the community.”


Cayuga Centers serves children and families throughout New York State, Palm Beach County, Florida, and Delaware offering a variety of evidence-based programs, residential and foster care treatment, and services for persons with developmental disabilities. Cayuga Centers, with over 600 employees, has a $48 million budget.