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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Playgrounds need to adapt more to special needs

We bring our children to different parks and playgrounds quite often. Tonight I was strolling through our local playground observing the equipment children play on. It's great if they have the use of their legs and the physical mobility to play appropriately. I honestly have to say that for our daughter who is wheelchair bound and struggles with balancing her mobility in all ways is limited in our area for recreation. The swings we use is designed for a baby. There is no back support. So while the rest of our children played, I started thinking about the improvements that should be made for children that are limited. Playgrounds need swings with full back support and a five point harness system. There is these little snails and squirrels that the children can get on and ride but there is no snail that a child can sit in that supports balance. Even at our local Elementary School I've heard that the new playground was designed for wheelchair bound children. Having a child in a wheelchair, I don't think so. I mean it's accessible but there is nothing for our daughter to do! There is these newly designed merry go-rounds that they can sit in and climb up on. Our daughter likes sitting in there but it's unsafe because of her balance. So as it goes around, she can fall down. Falling is an issue as she also can't protect herself like the rest of our children can. She's more likely to have an injury before any other child. So as I was studying this new designed merry go round at our local Elementary school I thought that there should be welded permanent seating with back support and even simple lap belts to hold children in place. I know there was a huge amount of money spent on this new little wheelchair accessible playground at our school but it's useless to our daughter. Like our community's complete sand. You can not pull a wheelchair through there. Nor would I because there is nothing for her there to do. They do have one access for wheelchairs but there's nothing really for her stimulation. She can play x and o's with these rolling blocks approximately her height. We are in the midst of looking at our yard which is completely un-landscaped, rock driveway extra. It will become a problem as our daughter ages pushing her wheelchair through rocks. Then what is she going to do? We are fortunate that it is not landscaped because we do plan on making it wheelchair friendly in many ways. We want her to experience and to be stimulated. At our local playground I think there should be more paved pathways leading to some fun recreation type equipment. I was doing some research and there is amazing equipment out there that I've never seen before. (Not around here anyways) Our daughter needs to be challenged just like the rest of the children hanging from monkey bars. I know when we can, we will have our own playground equipment installed and we won't have to worry about what playground offers what. I know playground equipment is expensive and especially when it's uniquely designed but it's very sad when the rest of our children are playing and we're searching for something our daughter can do. Here is some examples I would like to see on a playground.

Wheelchair Merry Go-Round
 Water table
More exciting challenges

Wheelchair swing
FUN equipment that is wheelchair accessible

Swings that offer more support!

Now I know everything has to do with finances but I priced out the wheelchair accessible swing seen above and it can be purchased under a thousand dollars for a community playground. This seems reasonable to me. I know for us, we would be there all the time. Our daughter doesn't look forward to going to our local playgrounds because there isn't much for her to do. When they say it's wheelchair "accessible" ok - sure it is but who cares, there is nothing to do once you're there. Also once you're an adult and still have mobility issues, why isn't there adult swings that accommodate that? I have never seen wheelchair bound adults at the park and now I know why. In every park there should be at least one because adults like to swing and play too! So we're not moving and I am going to address these issues with our city. I ran our beach boardwalk tonight too....located near our playground. A beautiful area and well built for wheelchairs although the access to the water just stops, immediately drops off with a blunt stop with the pavement. I thought to myself, why can't it be smoothed out, perhaps a platform of pavement built so the individual in the wheelchair can access that water safely? I thought all that work for what? To sit and look at the ocean? Well we could do that on the boardwalk too. So my wheels are turning as usual. My brain never stops and it was an enlightenment for even me to witness not much for our disabled children. What gets me is our cities look beautiful......very well landscaped and maintained. I bet that costs millions so why not better our local playgrounds so every child can be a child? Not only has adoption been my mission for many many years, it's now creating a happy, friendly and truly a real accessible fun playground for special needs children that actually challenges and stimulates where they will want to return. Forget pushing their wheelchair up to play x's and o's over and over again - boring. Stay tuned, I will let you know how far I go with this.

1 comment:

  1. this is so awesome! We also have just started a team this past June doing the same thing! me and my friends have raised $25000 since June and have put in over 18 swings in Grant County, Indiana! We are doing my home town, Blackford County Indiana, this spring! We have already raised $3000 toward the project! We have a facebook page, Swing Of Faith, you should check it out! we have made a big community awareness deal out of it as well, we don't just go in a do it, we make the community get involved! Check out our pics and spread our page! too cool!