Make-A-Wish brightens Christmas for Pinellas teen

- Christmas came early Sunday for 13-year-old Brock Napolitano, who was gifted a backyard playground by the Make-A -Wish Foundation of Southern Florida.

Sunday, Brock took his first ride down his brand new slide.

"It means a lot to see him happy," Brock's mother, Crystal Napolitano, said.

The 13-year-old is the latest recipient to have his wish granted.

"We’ve pretty much known that this is something," Make A Wish Foundation of Southern Florida C.O.O. Richard Kelly said. "He loves and something that will help him."

Brock was born with autism and cerebral palsy. He's non-verbal and sometimes uses a wheelchair. His mom says the playground is the perfect refuge for her son who has daily challenges.

"When he has meltdowns, it's hard for him to actually get out and go somewhere,” Napolitano said. “This is a big thing that we thought would be good for him to be able to just walk outside and go in and play."

The playground is fully equipped with sensory toys, a therapy area, and is wheelchair friendly. It's meeting a major need, according to Napolitano, who sometimes struggles to find local playgrounds that are appropriate and accessible for kids like Brock.

"The walking up the ramp," Napolitano said. "That will help him with his therapy. Inside, there's a lot of sensory stuff so it can help him calm down and help with his behavior issues."

The playground also includes padded floors and eventually will include a ball pit under the playhouse.

"This will help with his therapy," Kelly said. "It'll help with his skills. It'll help with his behavior and it will just help him have fun"

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