Okaloosa County Moves Forward With Special Needs Play Complex In Niceville

Okaloosa County has approved funding to build the Miracle League Field at Meigs Park, providing a dedicated space for children with special needs to play baseball and enjoy other amenities tailored to their requirements. The project's funding will come from the Okaloosa County Tourism Development District's funds, ensuring that out-of-town visitors contribute to this meaningful initiative.

The Okaloosa County Commission approved spending $372,110 on engineering, design, architectural survey, permitting, and bid services for the Okaloosa County Miracle League Field, also known as a field of dreams, that will be built at Meigs Park in Niceville.ย 

The park, which will cater specifically to children with special needs, will include a ball field, unique play structures, and other amenities to improve the quality of life for special needs children in Okaloosa County.ย 

This approval is the starting point to make Miracle League Park a reality. The proposal includes an eight-foot-wide, quarter-mile-long walking track, a ‘field of dreams’ special needs ball field, an ADA playground upgrade to the facility already in place, a combination basketball/volleyball court, and a large pavilion with a quiet room.ย 

RELATED: Ponder Pitches Special Needs Park to Niceville Council

The project’s funding will come from the Okaloosa County Tourism Development District’s coffers, which means the tax on hotel stays by out-of-towners will fund this part of the project entirely.ย 

Commissioner Mel Ponder thanked Niceville City Manager David Deitch for his partnership on the project and added, “What a great partner [Niceville] is to work with. You have been nothing but a teammate this whole way through. You are putting seed in the ground.”

Okaloosa County Public Works Director Jason Autrey shared Ponder’s sentiments. “David and I are becoming fast friends, talking on many issues,” Autrey told the commission about Deitch, “We will continue to work together on this and many other projects between the city, Niceville, and the county.”

Other Similar Parks

Other similar playgrounds exist around the Northwest Florida Area.ย Panama City Beach has a Miracle League,ย which welcomes players three and up with physical or mental impairment.

Pensacolaย also has a similar field,ย as does a park in Volusia Countyย and one in Tallahassee.ย 

What is the Miracle League?

The Miracle League,ย a network of special needs ballfields and facilities throughout the United States.ย 

The organization bills itself as a transformative initiative that enables children and adults with severe physical and mental disabilities to experience the joy of playing baseball. This game can light up their eyes. Traditional baseball fields pose significant challenges for individuals using wheelchairs and other assistive devices, but the Miracle League overcomes these barriers by providing custom-designed, rubberized turf fields that are accessible and safe.

Beyond the game, the Miracle League fosters friendship, self-esteem, and inclusion for its players. Through a “buddy” system, each athlete is paired with a non-disabled peer, creating a special bond and ensuring everyone is treated equally on the field. This approach benefits children and adults with various disabilities, who might otherwise be excluded from conventional baseball leagues.

The first Miracle League field opened in Conyers, Georgia, in 2000; since then, the movement has grown significantly. Today, over 350 Miracle League Organizations across the United States, including Puerto Rico and Canada, serve over 450,000 children and adults with disabilities. The Miracle League has ambitious plans to expand globally and help communities worldwide build Miracle League complexes, fulfilling the dreams of players who may face challenges but possess equal love and determination for the game., s

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