By Jackson Solari
Jazz Under The Stars, a fundraiser for “Play Without Barriers” hosted by The Mississippi Society for Disabilities to raise money for accessible playground equipment at Bailey Branch Park in Oxford, is tonight from 6-9 p.m. at the Old Armory Pavilion.
Local organizations like Leadership Lafayette, North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, and the city of Oxford are in partnership with MSD to help make the playground accessible for all children.
MSD’s mission is to foster meaningful play between children of all abilities and backgrounds and to encourage understanding of different levels of ability, according to their website.
“This project will enrich our community in a number of ways,” Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Pam Swain said in a previous article. “We are such a young family-focused community, and our quality of life is our major asset. Having an accessible playground in this community will allow all children to thrive and play. We are beyond excited about MSD’s plans.”
Edy Dingus, volunteer coordinator for the event, said the intent of the event is help spread awareness of inclusivity throughout the community. Dingus is on the Leadership Lafayette team—an arm of the Chamber of Commerce consisting of community leaders divided into groups, each focused on a different community improvement project—and said the fundraising goal is set at $20,000.
“Very few local parks offer areas of play for children of all abilities, but “Play Without Barriers” believes our community can achieve the inclusive vision of the Mississippi Society for Disabilities,” Dingus said.
The playground, located on the corner of Highway 7 South and Office Park Drive, will see three phases of equipment installation, each priced at $85,000: equipment suitable for ages five to 12, independent play structures located in shade and a playground suitable for children ages two to five. All phases should be complete by 2022 with the first stage to be finished by spring 2020.
Dingus said she hopes the event will become a staple in the community.
“Over the last several months, our group has worked diligently and collaboratively to design an event that illuminates the very real need for accessible play in our area, and we hope that Jazz Under the Stars becomes a way to motivate and celebrate the positive changes within our community for years to come,” she said.
Tickets for the event are still available and can be purchased online through Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s website, or at the door the day of the event. Adult tickets are $12 and children’s tickets are $6. Jazz music will be provided by the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, and the Uno Mas food truck will be on site.
All proceeds raised at Jazz Under The Stars will go directly to funding the construction of the new play facility.