Group works to create a playground for all in Moore County

ABC11 Together highlights the strength of the human spirit, good deeds, community needs, and how our viewers can help

ByGary Cooper via WTVD logo
Thursday, July 12, 2018

CARTHAGE, NC (WTVD) -- A group of people in Moore County is hoping to make a handicap accessible playground for children with special needs.

Swinging, sliding, climbing. All part of fun in a park for countless children. But for some, such as 4-year-old Ellie Jean, it's complicated.

Ellie Jean has cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, toxoplasmosis, epilepsy, and is legally blind.

But she also has a little brother who loves her, and a dad who wants to make sure Ellie has as much fun as she can.

So one day, the family went to Sassafras All Children's Playground in Raleigh - a playground that can accommodate special-needs children.

"Had a blast as a family, and that's what you want as a parent is to watch your kids have fun and to see someone like Ellie be able to have fun and enjoy it," said Brandon Clothier, Ellie's father. "We just thought, why can't we do something like that here in Moore County?"

And that's how the Ellie Jean Project got started.

It is a nonprofit effort to raise money and awareness to build handicap-accessible playgrounds throughout Moore County and eventually all of North Carolina.

It's even gotten the attention of the Pinehurst Police Department, where an officer produced a lip-sync video for social media to help raise awareness.

The plan is to first redo Nancy Kiser Park in Carthage, and then to make changes at parks across the state.

The project is $150,000 short of the goal, but the family says happy children are their motivation.

"The laughter and the giggles, the noises, the snorts and the noises, and everything that she makes will bring a smile to your face," Clothier said of Ellie.