Watkinsville’s Miracle League & Playground of Possibilities Projects Help Propel City to All-America City Award Winner

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Tuesday, June 11th, 2024

Extra Special People, Inc. (esp) is thrilled to announce that Watkinsville has been named a 2024 All-America City Award Winner. This recognition honors Watkinsville’s outstanding efforts in fostering democracy through local action and innovation, particularly through its inclusive and community-driven projects. These initiatives have created transformative experiences for people of all abilities, highlighting the power of public-private partnerships. This past weekend, the team from esp, including two Joyristas (barista + joy = joyrista), traveled alongside other city residents, the Mayor, and Mayor Pro Tem to Denver, Colorado, to be recognized as one of the top 20 cities in the United States.

The All-America City Award, presented by the National Civic League, celebrates communities that demonstrate exceptional civic engagement, collaboration, and innovation in addressing local challenges. Watkinsville’s application highlights its strategic investments and the impact of key community projects, with a strong emphasis on inclusivity and the spirit of coming together.

In a heartfelt collaboration between Watkinsville and esp, the Miracle League Ball Field and universally-accessible Playground of Possibilities were created. This inclusive recreational space allows children of all abilities to play together, fostering community bonds and a sense of belonging. The project, driven by extensive public input and collaboration, is a testament to what we can achieve when creating places for all. Watkinsville’s tagline, "Come. Connect. Create.," beautifully encapsulates the city’s commitment to esp, to welcoming visitors and to all residents of the city with a focus on, fostering community connections, and encouraging creativity. This vision, established in 2019, guides Watkinsville’s community engagement initiatives and resonates deeply with esp’s mission to create transformative experiences for people with disabilities and their families.

Laura Whitaker, CEO of esp, shared her excitement: “Watkinsville is clearly setting a national example of what it looks like to build community. The Miracle League and Playground of Possibilities project could not have happened without a city who is embracing a new tomorrow, imagining an inclusive community that benefits us all. We see the benefits everyday, for all residents on our playground. We are overjoyed to see national recognition and join Watkinsville in Denver for the All-America City Award.”

The winners of the 2024 All-America City Award were announced during closing ceremonies at the National Civic League’s annual conference in Denver, Colorado, June 6-9. The city, alongside members of Bethel Baptist, the police chief, baseball players from Rocket Field alongside esp were present to state their case as a finalist. Follow the journey online at instagram.com/laurahopewhitaker.