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Southside Park gets fresh coat of paint for National Painting Week

There are unique play structures and play equipment with colorful and textured pathways to create a wheelchair and sensory-enriched accessible playground.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento's Southside Park got a makeover today that is out of this world.

It is National Painting Week and Jonnie and Friends Reach for the Stars partnered with Sherwin-Williams and the City of Sacramento to give Southside Park's playground a much-needed fresh coat of paint.

The theme of Southside Park's playground is "Universal Universe," and many rides, swings and structures revolve around the solar system theme. There are unique play structures and play equipment with colorful and textured pathways to create a wheelchair and sensory-enriched accessible playground.

Since 2011, Sherwin-Williams has partnered with community organizations around the country through its National Painting Week Program. Also, since 2019, Jonnie and Friends Reach for the Stars has worked rain or shine to restore the playground at Southside Park. 

Now today, employees from Sherwin-Williams and volunteers from Jonnie and Friends repainted an interior part of the playground and touched up walkway graphics, adding bright colors to a once dull sidewalk. 

"Today was a symbolic day," said Marc Laver, founder of Jonnie and Friends Reach for the Stars. "This is the collaboration to bring in more special kids and all kids to unite."

Laver was inspired to "reach for the stars" when his son, Jonnie, who struggled with meningitis complications, could not play in the park in his wheelchair when he was younger. Once he and his son came to that realization, the Laver family became advocates for adding accessible play features to the playground.

"Every child regardless of their abilities deserves to have fun and deserves a safe place to play," Laver said. "'Universal Universe' gave my son and his friends exactly that."

After his son passed away, Laver dedicated his time and energy into the community, not only making the playground accessible in memory of his own son but for other kids who deal with the same accessibility struggles.  

Since it started, National Painting Week has completed more than 15,000 projects using more than 35,000 gallons of donated paint.

The future plans of Jonnie and Friends include raising private donations for more sensory-enhanced features that kids of all abilities can benefit from, partnering with the community, and developing trainings and workshops to support integrated play.

WATCH MORE ON ABC10:Father honored son by raising money for accessible Southside Park in Sacramento

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