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Autism-friendly park proposed for downtown Tucson

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TUCSON - The City of Tucson is proposing an autism-friendly park for the downtown area.

It would be the first of its kind here in Arizona.

The proposed park would be located right next to the Intermountain Academy Centers, which is a school for children with autism.

Community members still have time to offer their comments for the new park with construction planned for this March.

For parents with children who are on the autism spectrum, the park brings relief.

"It means a safe place," said Amy Messingill, a mother of a child with autism and a teacher at Intermountain Academy. "It means that these children get the same things that other children get in a appropriate environment and they need that."

The park will be fenced off and will have five different sensory zones.

"There is an animal zone where the animals will be statues but they're going to be very tactile," said Paul O'Rourke, the vice president of Intermountain Academy Centers. "Where they're going to be very tactile and the kids will be able to touch and feel that's very important for this population."

O'Rourke says in Pima County, there is an estimated 4,000 people on the autism spectrum.

"As a teacher and a parent, it will be wonderful for these kids to have to engage with each other and learn how to engage and then make a friend and play together and learn together, it will be really wonderful for them," Messingill said.

The new park will cost approximately $1 million.

If you'd like to donate to build the park, click here.

If you'd like to give your input on the autism-friendly park, you can attend a public meeting held at the Intermountain Centers located at 401 N. Bonita Avenue in Tucson.

The event is on Tuesday, March 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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Denelle Confair

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