The South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (DDSN) announced the City of Greenville as its 2023 winner of the agency’s Silver Palmetto Award.
“We are fortunate because the City of Greenville has consistently been ahead of the curve by developing accessible spaces and making our community a friendlier place for the people we serve,” said Dana McConnell, the executive director of the Center for Developmental Services and award nominee.
DDSN’s Silver Palmetto Award is given annually to one city for exceptional service to the individuals they serve.
In her nomination, McConnell wrote that city officials solicited input from disability providers last year when drafting their new strategic plan. In addition, construction of the Greenville’s first inclusive playground took place in 2023 and will be completed in 2024. With input from providers, the city’s parks department worked with a local family to design a playground with accessible equipment, shaded areas, and 700 feet of sidewalk to increase connectivity.
“Brooks’ Playground provides an excellent example of our collaborative efforts to thoughtfully design a safe space where people of all abilities can play together,” said Tara Eaker, director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. “We continue to strive toward providing enriching experiences that ensure accessibility and promote inclusivity.”
The agency also acknowledged work on AccessGVL, an innovative app that was designed in collaboration with the Barbara Stone Foundation that gives individuals with disabilities a way to plan their visit to Greenville. The app shows where to find accessible parking, identifies lesser-known routes that are easier to navigate, and rates businesses on their accessibility.
"Our goal in developing the AccessGVL app is to provide an informative tool to enable everyone to enjoy Downtown Greenville’s many attributes," said City ADA coordinator Mike Jank. "It has also offered our team the opportunity to educate downtown business operators on how they can make their businesses more accessible to all."
“I am pleased, but not surprised, to see Greenville recognized with DDSN’s Silver Palmetto Award,” said DDSN Commissioner David Thomas, whose district includes Greenville County. “This city is in full support of our mission, and we are beyond lucky to have their support.”
The South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (DDSN) is the state agency that plans, develops, coordinates and funds services for residents with various severe, lifelong disabilities. Populations served include individuals with traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, autism spectrum disorder, and intellectual disabilities. City officials will accept the award next month during Hometown Legislative Action Day, which is hosted by the Municipal Association of South Carolina.