Jackson County, WI – The Behavioral Health Division with the Jackson County Department of
Health and Human Services is home to the Children’s Long-Term Support (CLTS) program, along
with a Crisis program, the Comprehensive and Community Services (CCS) program, Coordinated
Services Team, and an Outpatient Clinic. While all of these programs serve those with mental health
concerns and/or addiction, the CLTS program also serves children with physical and developmental
disabilities. The program helps to provide support and services to these children and their families
that normally would not be covered by insurance.
Jessica Stinson, Manager of the Jackson County Behavioral Health Division, said, “We learned of an
opportunity for our department and CLTS program to apply for funds in August that would benefit
the population we serve in CLTS and thought the All-Abilities Playground matched perfectly with
the goals of the grant.” The grant funds were made available by the American Rescue Plan Act

(ARPA), which provided qualifying states with federal funding for Medicaid Home and Community-
Based Services (HCBS) activities. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) invested
some of these funds to implement statewide HCBS grants. The goal with offering these grants was to
enhance, expand, and strengthen HCBS. Funds will be distributed across the state in both urban and
rural areas, and support diverse organizations and populations. In September, DHS received over 717
applications requesting over $200 million in funding. They awarded grants to 69 projects, totaling
over $17 million. Jackson County Behavioral Health was notified at the end of November that their
application was approved and they would be awarded the $600,00 grant, but announcement of the
award could not be made until after DHS made their official news release on December 20th. Jackson
County was in the top 10 for the largest grant amount awarded.

More information on the grants
awarded can be found here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/arpa/hcbs-grantsopportunities.htm.
Ms. Stinson reached out the All-Abilities Playground group to obtain more information and plans for
the all-inclusive park. After reviewing the materials and reviewing the criteria for the grant, a grant
application was submitted, asking for full-funding for the project. Dana Johnson, a Social Worker
with the Behavioral Health Division who works with children served by the CLTS program, joined
the planning committee as well to assist with collaboration on the grant and to provide input on the
needs of those the park would greatly benefit.

Ms. Stinson shared in the grant that an all-inclusive park would not only directly benefit the children
with physical, developmental, or sensory challenges that the CLTS program serves, it would allow
the adults with the same challenges to play on a playground with their children or grandchildren who
might not have those challenges. In addition, having an all-inclusive park would allow those with
disabilities to make social connections with other children, something this population often finds
challenging. It would assist with improving physical health and strength, improve mental health, and
allow children without disabilities to interact and become comfortable with those that do. In addition,
it helps the individuals caring for these children as well. It allows caregivers to take the children they
are caring for with special needs to a safe space, one where they won’t have to worry as much about
them getting hurt, not being able to play with their peers, etc. It also gives those caregivers an
opportunity to get outside and maybe even connect with others.

Ms. Johnson shared, “We often see challenges with our providers finding space to work with the
children in our program, especially if home is not an option for various reasons. Having a space like
this for our providers to take our children to so that they can work on their social skills, strength,
range of motion, and so on is extremely beneficial.” Ms. Johnson also shared,” With my experience
working in the CLTS program, children and families want to be included and participate in everyday
recreational activities like everyone else and this park will provide that opportunity in our very own
community. I’m looking forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on our community.”
“We are excited that the timing was just right for the grant offering and planning for the park and we
were so happy to hear that we were awarded the $600,000 grant to fully-fund the All-Abilities
Playground. It was an all or nothing grant, so we wouldn’t have received just a portion of our request.
I am excited for our team to continue to work the with the All-Abilities Playground Committee and
even more excited to see how much a benefit this will be to the Jackson County community and the
children we serve,” said Ms. Stinson.

According to the All-Abilities Playground Committee Co-Chairs, Anneliese Eddy, Nicole Thompson,
and Ashley Segelhurst, “The Playground Planning Committee is so grateful for receiving this
$600,000 grant which now allows the committee to include additional elements that were not
budgeted for during our first phase of construction. The funds exceeding the original budget will
allow us to explore safety features that would be of benefit to our community, such as shade
structures, fencing, and security cameras, while still including a maintenance fund to allow for future
needs and repairs. The playground committee is honored to know the all-abilities playground project
was selected to receive the full funding out of the 700 applicants! Providing an all-inclusive space for
families and individuals to enjoy and thrive in will positively impact mobility, support an active
lifestyle, encourage friendships, improve mental health outcomes, and build confidence for years to come.”

The Planning Committee invites those interested in following the progress or learning more
about the playground project to “like” and “follow” the “All-Abilities Playground Project at Lunda
Park” on Facebook. You can also visit the City of Black River Falls, WI website for more details.
Inquiries about this this project can be directed to the Playground Planning Committee by emailing

Caption for Photo: (L to R) Dana Johnson, Jackson County Behavioral Health Social Worker III,
Jessica Stinson, Jackson County Behavioral Health Manager, Christine Hovell, Jackson Cty. DHHS
Director, Ron Carney, Jackson County Board Supervisor District 12 and DHHS Committee
Chairman, Chad Duerkop, Black River Falls Parks & Recreation Director, Anneliese Eddy, Ashley
Segelhurst, and Nicole Thompson, All-Abilities Playground Committee Co-Chairs.

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