My children ask me to take them to the park at least once a day. It can be hot, cold, rainy, snowy…they want to go to the park. They love it there. The oldest to the youngest. The nice thing is that they have options. Pick a park, any park in our suburban Texas town, and they can play and have a good time.
I think I always took this for granted. Then I learned about the Magical Bridge Playground through Type-A Parent. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. According to their website, the Magical Bridge is “designed to be a socially inclusive playground for children of varying physical and cognitive abilities. Addressing the unique play needs of the many kinds of children in our community, our hope is to create awareness that today’s park designs are overlooking so many: the growing autistic population, visually and hearing impaired, physically limited and even our aging community.”
I have many friends that have children with disabilities, some visible, some not. I’ll be honest. Sometimes I don’t know what to say or do. I don’t want to offend, but I don’t want to ignore. I do want to help though, and maybe a good way to help is to get the word out.
Playgrounds are great for children–ALL children– to socialize, be kids, have fun, develop motor skills, play with one another. It’s a place where they don’t have to worry about getting chosen last for the kickball team. It should be an equal playing field where differences are celebrated. If everyone was the same, what fun would that be? I love that Magical Bridge Playground is teaching inclusion. They have built an amazing playground in Palo Alto, California to include everyBODY. Those two slide pictures earlier in the post? Big difference on being able to accommodate all children.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990 and little has been done since then to enhance playground equipment around the country. I know how my children feel when they come upon a group of kids playing and aren’t invited to play. They feel left out, unwanted, and sad. It hurts my heart. I can only imagine that’s how children feel when they come upon a playground they physically can’t play on. And I know their parents’ hearts hurt.
As a former CPS Worker, I know that the behaviors learned as children have an incredible impact on the adult that child becomes. If we teach our children to be inclusive now, then those behaviors will continue with them for the rest of their lives. My hope is for a world with more kindness and more acceptance. Why not start here? Come join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #ADAForgotMe and check out Magical Bridge. We need to have this playground and playgrounds like it everywhere for all children to have the same opportunities for fun and growth.