Saturday, May 5, 2007


We went to an "all-inclusive" playground in our area. It is a wonderful playground with climbing structures, slides, swings, pieces that make music, a stage, spinning flower chairs, and so much more. It is obvious that much careful planning, effort, and money went into the design and construction of the playground.

There were a few incidents that reminded me that "all inclusive" is a tall order to fill.

Example 1:
Moosie loves to swing. He often requests to "eee AYE!" [swing high]. I was eyeing the "baby swings" curiously when another mom said, "They made them that high so that it won't be dangerous for little ones just in case they wander near the swings." After I shrugged she said, "It makes sense if you think about it."

Well I was thinking about it. In order to put my child in the swing, I had to hoist him way above my shoulders (I am just under 5 foot tall) and navigate his excited dancing legs into little leg holes (without getting kicked in the face). Not that this was a big deal really, but I imagine it would be difficult for a parent who uses a wheelchair to get their little one in the swing.

Example 2:
Most of the playground is enclosed by a fence. I was very excited by this because I have a wanderer and another one that idolizes and follows the wanderer wherever he may go. I also have friends who have runners.

I was disappointed that two of the playground structures exited outside of the fence perimeter. One cannot get to these exits unless one climbs through various mazes, ramps, and slides. I took a look and realized that a wheelchair ramp connected to this area to allow access to the higher areas of the structures for those wanting to get INTO the playground. I also noticed that, from my point of view, it allowed access to a drop off, creek, and pond (complete with an attractive fountain) to anyone wanting OUT of the playground. It was also impossible for a parent chasing a fleeing child to get to in a safe, quick manner.

A friend of mine made a comment to another parent about the openings. The parent looked uncomfortable and said, "That's the point of the whole playground." That mother just happened to be there with a beautiful chubby-cheeked boy using a walker/roller to get around. My friend mentioned that we had 'runners' and so we were nervous as we were constantly locating our boys to make sure they didn't flee, but the mother had already tuned out.

Situations like these challenge my views about "disability" everyday, whether it be inclusion, functioning, acceptance, or even what constitutes a disability. It really is defined within any given situation by the eye of the beholder. More for me to stew on, I guess.


Club 166 said...

I can understand how well meaning individuals put the swings up high, and ran into the "law of unintended consequences" because they didn't think it all the way thru. What I don't understand is the playground structures exiting outside the perimeter. I mean, what were they thinking? That is a safety issue for all kids (and a boon for any pedophile wanting to snatch a kid and make a quick getaway).

Stimey said...

This is so spot on: "It really is defined within any given situation by the eye of the beholder."

I would have felt the same way as you about that park.