CAMDEN Accessible Playground


*In late October 1989, Todd Long and Sherry Kuelz created an idea for an accessible playground so Sherry's nephew, Camden and others like him could make use of a playground after Todd called Sherry to ask about a college project involving such.

*Sherry did research on accessible playgrounds while Todd contacted Tom Presny of Janesville Parks Department.

*Sherry, Todd, and Tom decided Janesville, located in the center of Rock County, would give easy access to the surrounding cities and it had easy access from all cities.

*A name for this new organization was discovered after Sherry saw her nephew's picture and came up with Community Accessibility Medium Dealing with Exception Needs or C.A.M.D.E.N.

*January 1990 the first meeting of C.A.M.D.E.N. was held at the Janesville Public Library (now known as the Hedberg Library) with 30 members in attendance. They received their first donation of $1,000 from a member, Jim Noll, in memory of his wife. Later Jim's daughter, Barb, would volunteer to work as a grant writer for the organization.

*Attorneys Bill Vogt and Terry Lyons file for foundation and non-profit status, which was received March 1990.

*City council meetings were attended for approval to build the playground within a city park....approval was unanimous.

*First stage: choosing a place to build the accessible playground..after much research, Palmer Park in Janesville was chosen for many reasons. According to a survey by the city, this was the largest, most used park. Palmer Park had a wading pool, the area was well shaded, the land was flat, the park had a large pavilion, plus there was easy access off I-90, for many visitors. (Later this would be moved slightly to the east because of the underground water and electrical lines.)

*The decision was taken before the City Council who, again, was unanimously approved.

*Public awareness: Sherry made presentations to the media and area organizations, the board held fundraisers, letters and phone calls were made to reach the people and make them aware of C.A.M.D.E.N.'s purpose and intent.

*The first fundraiser, an auction, took place at Kandu Industries with over 300 items from local businesses and sports teams, actors/actresses, and other famous people who supported the cause. According to the auctioneer, Paul George who volunteered his time and done auctions for many, many years, the auction had raised the largest amount he'd ever seen for a fundraising auction. The auction raised over %6,000. for the playground.

*After many unique fundraisers along with other organizations holding fundraisers, by 1992 the organization had raised over $160,000 for the building of this special playground.

*Aug 26-28, 2016 and Sept. 6-11, 2016 volunteers helped to rebuild this playground; this time with rubber matting throughout the playground and recyclable materials in place of wood, ensuring the playground will last much longer than the first. The playground was re-opened June 9, 2017.

So you see, anyone, no matter who you are, can take a simple dream and make it a reality, just never let anything stop you. Dream, believe, and reach and you can achieve. Good luck with your dream, we hope it comes true.


During research, Sherry found that those with special needs were the largest minority group in the United States and there were, at that time, 2,000-3,000 people with special needs in Rock County alone. Three years later, in 1993, more research would be conducted and that number had increased to 6,000-7,000 people.

At the time of its completion, C.A.M.D.E.N. Playground was considered the largest Accessible, and most accessible playground in the world. (Robert Leathers, Leathers & Assoc., world renown playground architects)

From 1993 until 2014, C.A.M.D.E.N. Playground had 1.3 million visitors (Tom Presny, City of Janesville Parks Dept.).

C.A.M.D.E.N. Playground was completed in a 3 week, 2 phase build; the first running from Sept. 23 to Oct. 4 and the final phase from May 12 to May 22 with dedication on May 23, 1993.

Close to 3,000 volunteers took part in the construction of C.A.M.D.E.N. Playground during the 2 phase build.

C.A.M.D.E.N. stands for Community Accessibility Medium Dealing with Exceptional Needs.

With donations of supplies and equipment from the communities, the original playground is estimated to be worth over $600,000. (Tom Presny and Leathers & Assoc.)

Over 200 playgrounds have been modeled after C.A.M.D.E.N. worldwide; India, Holland, Germany, and all across the USA including Florida, Texas, Kansas, Georgia, Minnesota, California, Michigan, Illinois, Montana, and Wisconsin to name a few. Many more have been modeled after all of those playgrounds so the fun for ALL children will never die.