ELIZABETHTON, TN (WJHL) – There was a ribbon cutting for a very special section of The TLC in Elizabethton Thursday afternoon.
TLC Town is an addition of a previous park at TLC’s Elizabethton location and consists of several children size locations for kids to visit and play in. TLC Town is most importantly a “sensory friendly zone” for children with special needs. There is a diner, grocery store, church and other shops for children to enjoy, as well as a 16 foot miniature replica of the famous covered bridge.
Builder Roger Dougherty is a retiree who designed and constructed the entire park and town with help from a couple of his retired friends. Today, he was named the Mayor of TLC Town and given a key to the city.
“I’m just totally amazed how it all came together, but what I am really amazed at is, we had the deal, I built, she painted, so the signs, the staging, the stuff that is inside, it’s all for the children, fabulous,”, Dougherty said, “Angie Odom had seen a little villiage over in Asheville and said this is just perfect for the sensory therapy, do you think you can build that? I had already built the therapy center out there and it was primarily so that Bella could do physical therapy without having to go to a physical therapist. And not just for Bella, but for all of the children in the community. So then this was just an extension of that.”
The entire park is named after Jackson Neil Johnston, who passed away from a congenital birth defect. His parents were on hand today for the event.
“This has just been such an inspirational project from the start. When we came up and it was basically just floors and walls to what we are looking at today. Of course, it is all about the children and with us having experience in losing a child from congenital birth defects, this is just a huge tribute to Jackson and it is a way we can live on with his memory and serve the community and also serve these children who will benefit so greatly from this project that was Angie’s dream and vision we’re just so proud to be a part of it,” Jackson’s mother Jackee Johnston said.
Jackson’s father Jason Johnston added, “It’s just amazing to see the amount of work, the craftsmanship, the artistry, the vision and everything that everybody has put into this, to walk in and see it is very humbling, very touching and it is just amazing what the kids are going to get to, the laughter and the fun that they are going to get to have in here, it is truly an honor to be part of this.”
Jackson’s brother Jayce was one of the first kids thru TLC Town and was even named the honorary Chief of Police of TLC Town.
“It’s incredible, I came in here originally and it was just one thing, to come back now and see how much it has grown and become big, it’s just incredible and I hope kids really enjoy this and it is an awesome tribute to my brother and I just hope his spirit can help everyone else and hope the kids enjoy playing in this as much as I think he would,”, Jayce Johnston said.
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