Sunday, June 14, 2009

Play Day!

We drove down to Bradley Lake Park this afternoon to enjoy the cool weather and the wonderful playground-- which has a wonderful story to go with it. This is a fully accessible playground, with a wheelchair ramp up to the slides, a special swing, plenty of ground-level activities and easy-to-manipulate toys (such as the giant maracas Connor's got his hands on here) and a wheelchair-friendly rubber play surface. A woman named Karen Vindivich, the mother of a special needs child, petitioned the city for a playground that her daughter could use. She raised 90,000 dollars for the project, the city contributed 75,000 dollars more, and Savannah's Place (named for Karen's daughter) became a reality. Puyallup is not a huge town; it has about 33,000 people, which makes it a modest suburb, so for it to have such a beautiful inclusive playground is especially surprising.

It just so happened that while we were at the playground, the Outdoors For All Foundation was out at the park doing one of their demo rides with adapted bicycles. They provide outdoor recreational experiences for people with a wide variety of disabilities-- everything from rock climbing to kayaking to snowboarding. All sorts of different people with different adaptive needs were hitting the (also fully accessible) trails around the lake on various types of bikes-- the only thing they all had in common were the huge smiles on their faces! Tons of kids too small for the bikes were also walking, crawling and wheeling around on the playground equipment and having the time of their lives.

To me Savannah's Place is more than a wonderful place for our son to play. This playground is a testament to what the parents of special needs children can accomplish when we put our backs into it. Without Karen's tireless efforts, this playground would not exist. It makes me wonder what I could be doing to improve Connor's life and the lives of other special needs children. If Karen could raise 90,000 dollars for special needs children in a town with 33,000 people, what's holding the rest of us back?

I think that every town in America should have a park and a story like this.


~Jess

6 comments:

merritt said...

I agree completely with your final statement. Every community needs this! You are already doing SOOOOO much for Connor and other children, even by keeping this extraordinary record of your experiences in raising him. Love you, Cousin! So proud!

jesswilson said...

This playground is a testament to what the parents of special needs children can accomplish when we put our backs into it.

AMEN!! What an incredible mom (and wonderful place)!

This is such a great reminder that when what our children need isn't there, we CAN create it.

leah said...

Our little area has an accessible playground, and it is great! I'd love to see something along the lines of this one, though: http://www.prestonshope.com/ It is an AWESOME accessible playground (near Cleveland).

Julia said...

Great post. We have nothing like that in our town, and I have to confess I never even thought about accessbility issues at a playground. I'd love to see something like that here. Something to talk about at playgroup next week.

You are obviously in a great town which really values all kids. The IEP and the playground both bode very well!

Michelle said...

Great story - it reminds me once again that one person can improve the lives of so many others. I often wonder what else I can do, but for now, I'm just focusing on providing Xander with opportunities. He has already changed so many lives for the better, and I know he will continue to do so, just as Connor has. You and your little guy are so inspiring!

Connor's Mom said...

Merritt: Thanks, cousin! Miss you!

jesswilson: Thanks! I thought it was pretty inspirational-- Savannah must be pretty proud of her mom!

leah: That is an AWESOME playground. Wow.

Julia: That's how these things get started, right?

Michelle: Thanks bunches. :)

 
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