For nine-year-old Kyren Roberts, Friday was an exciting day.
The Gunnedah youngster turned the first sod at the site of Gunnedah's new inclusive playground - Livvi's Place - at Wolseley Park, alongside mayor Jamie Chaffey and Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson.
The project has been a long-held dream of Kyren's mum Ashley Bender who envisioned a playground where children of all abilities could play together, including her son who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two.
This dream sparked a petition of 300 signatures, which she presented to Gunnedah Shire Council in 2013.
Four years later, a design was approved, $850,000 was announced for the project under the Stronger Country Communities Fund, and the council formed a partnership with the Touched by Olivia Foundation, which aims to create inclusive play spaces in Australia for all families. The council committed $520,000 to the project.
Jane accompanied Kyren to the sod-turning on Friday and said they were "a bit speechless".
"It's brilliant ... It's amazing infrastructure for Gunnedah," she said.
"[Ashley's] over the moon about it.
"If it's ready for Christmas, we might even have Christmas here," Jane said.
Cr Chaffey said it "truly is an exciting moment for us here in Gunnedah" and it was thanks to the efforts and commitment of the working group that the project was starting to unfold.
He particularly praised council's Deborah Hilton for her "dedication and passion" in ensuring the "high quality detail" of the project.
"There was a desperate need for this inclusive project and I know it will become a centre piece for our community into the future."
Mr Anderson echoed Cr Chaffey's words, saying the "grassroots" initiative was for the betterment of the community and would make Gunnedah a "destination".
The concept plan for Livvi's Place was developed by Kathryn Yigman of Stewart Surveys following extensive consultation with the community and the Inclusive Playground Working Group. The council also consulted with the Touched by Olivia Foundation.
Touched by Olivia was formed in 2006 by the Perkins Family with a core focus on creating inclusive playspaces across Australia.
The foundation assists communities to create places that encourage and invite social inclusion through play. These play spaces are dubbed "Livvi's Place" in honour of Olivia Perkins who died of a rare disease at eight months of age.