Members of the community gather in front of the splash pad area of the new inclusive park for a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday at Valley View Early College Campus in Hidalgo. Francisco Jimenez | The Monitor

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Valley View Early College Campus on Wednesday morning to commemorate what is believed to be the largest inclusive park in South Texas.

The park will provide children and adults with disabilities an opportunity to play at a playground that caters to their special needs.

Dozens of people braved the frigid 51-degree weather to bear witness to the official opening of the park, the culmination of a year-and-a-half effort by the Capable Kids Foundation, Hidalgo County Precinct 2 and Valley View ISD.

“The park’s been a long time coming,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Eduardo “Eddie” Cantu. “We had Capable Kids basically design it. I gave them carte blanche to design whatever they needed, whatever they wanted. So they designed this beautiful park. We found the funding for it. We partnered with Valley View and we built it.

“We’re happy. Hopefully this will bring more inclusive parks to the community.”

Cantu was visibly overcome with emotion, and at times struggled to get through his speech as he addressed the crowd. He attributed this to his love for helping children.

“Hopefully people will start building everything with inclusivity in mind, whether it’s a park, whether it’s a facility, that they think about everybody instead of having people on the sideline of the park, the building, whatever it may be,” Cantu said.

During the ceremony, two checks were presented to the Capable Kids Foundation and the Rio Grande Valley Down Syndrome Association from Hidalgo County in the amounts of $5,777. Also contributing to the park was the Wounded Warrior Project, which donated about $4,000 to the inclusive park project.

“Personally, as the president of Capable Kids, it’s the end of a long road of us advocating and praying and hoping for a partner to bring this inclusive playground to fruition,” Melanie Watson of Capable Kids said after the ceremony, as children frolicked about the new playground. “Several of us are therapists. We work with kids who are now adults. They’ve never played on a playground. They’ve sat on the sidelines and wished that they could join.

Jesus Daniel Puente, 12, smiles as he tries out a new swing at the inclusive park after a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday at Valley View Early College Campus in Hidalgo. Francisco Jimenez | The Monitor

“Now this playground changes that. It allows all kids to play together, to grow up together beside each other, and that makes such a huge difference in how people see each other.”

The park is a school and city shared park. It will be accessible to schools during school hours, and it will become open to the public after school hours and on weekends.

Anyone who would like more information about Capable Kids Foundation can visit their Facebook page or their website: www.ckrgv.org. Donations to the organization can be made through their website.