Nonprofit Spotlight: Kids Together Playground

The Sway Fun is a wheelchair-accessible glider for inclusive playground fun.

“Small ideas reap great rewards when those ideas are shared by many,” reads a sign in Cary’s Kids Together Playground, the legacy of Helen Rittelmeyer and Kristen Holcombe, 8-year-olds who dreamed of a place where their younger siblings with disabilities could safely play. Skip ahead more than 20 years and the playground — nestled in the Marla Dorrel Park — continues to allow kids of all ages and abilities to play together.

Thanks to the enduring effort of a team of volunteers, KT Playground provides opportunities for children to understand the concept emblazoned in bronze in the Misting Garden: “Different is Normal, Love is Universal.”

Here, park namesake and Kids Together President Marla Dorrel explains how dreams can become reality when individuals join their efforts and work hard … then play hard!

The playground is a suburban Cary fixture. Can you share how the space has grown along with the community?

In the early years, Kids Together added shade structures in the School-Age Sensory Play area. Today, given the trees’ growth, we wouldn’t need those!

During the initial design stage, budgetary concerns caused us to delay adding a water feature. However, in partnership with the Town of Cary, in 2018 we added the Misting Garden — complete with whimsical chimera statues created by Pittsboro artist Todd Frahm.

Over the years, we’ve been asked to include a wheelchair-accessible swing. We didn’t find the right one until, in 2022, we discovered the We-Go-Swing, which allows a child in a wheelchair to swing without transferring and includes both a wheelchair-accessible and standard bench bay, allowing a child in a wheelchair to swing along with a non-disabled sibling, caregiver, or other friend. With funding from KT and the Town of Cary, the We-Go-Swing was installed in December 2023.

We are fortunate that the Town of Cary continues to maintain the playground, keeping it safe and exciting.

Does the playground continue to be used as imagined and intended?

Yes. There is rarely a time that the playground isn’t in use, and it’s a joy to see families flock there, especially on weekends. Our visitors speak many languages and reflect the area’s diversity. The picnic shelter is a popular place for birthday parties and other gatherings. Groups from the YMCA and area day care centers bring busloads of children for a few hours of fun, and playgroups meet in the Preschool Play area.

The We-Go-Swing, which is wheelchair accessible, is a new playground structure for kids with disabilities.

Can you share an experience that epitomizes the playground’s mission?

For the past two years, the Town’s Specialized Recreation program has chosen Kids Together Playground as the site of its annual Easter Eggstravaganza, an egg hunt designed for those with disabilities, their families, and caregivers. The event is open to everyone, including non-disabled children who just happen to be at the playground. Seeing everyone together, crafting paper crowns and hunting eggs, demonstrates what our organization values most: accessibility and inclusivity for those of all abilities.

KT is active when it comes to events, this spring’s Safety Day being just one example. What’s planned and how can the community show its support?

As an all-volunteer organization, Kids Together runs on a shoestring budget despite still having annual expenses and those related to the free community activities we offer. Our membership program is designed to cover those expenses — the more we receive, the more fun experiences we can offer. We also welcome donations, and our engraved brick program is a special way to honor someone.

While we hold at least four free events — including pop-ups — at the playground each year, our sole fundraiser, Walk, Run & Roll for Inclusive Play, is taking place on October 5. We’re seeking sponsors and vendors; those interested can contact me at, and event information is available on our website.

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