Accessible Playground Leaves No Child on the Sidelines

May 2019 | | By Ericka Polanco Webb

Playdates and playgrounds. I vividly remember, my son was at the age when climbing trees, hanging on monkey bars and running up and down the slide was the highlight of children his age. However, this was not the case for him. He's a wheelchair-using child that has no mobility of his legs nor his arms. He has Cerebral Palsy, quadriplegia and a host of other limited abilities; he was born this way.

Despite those limitations, Jay absolutely enjoyed the playground, crying upon our departure and insanely exuberant with excitement upon our arrival. Although for my husband and I, curating an experience for him to enjoy himself was no easy feat. Picking him up and sitting on the swing with him or securing his body as he sat alone was not a simple task. Nevertheless, we made it happen because there were no playgrounds that provided an experience for children with various needs and abilities. That is, until parks such as the Sandlot located in Oakbrook, Illinois began to pop up!

The Sandlot is a fenced-in playground that caters to children of ALL needs and abilities. This park has restored a favorite childhood pastime to life by providing an experience for all children. This universal playground's mission is ensuring no child is left on the sidelines of play. The Sandlot is not only sensitive to the needs of children that have full mobility of their limbs, it also provides an experience for children like my son.

Children in wheelchairs, walkers and other assistive walking apparatuses have the opportunity to join in on the fun at the park by utilizing the two levels of ramps, giving kids the ability to play alongside peers and family. This universal playground takes the idea of accessibility and transforms it into a fun place to play. With musical objects, a shaded area with seating and various interactive components, this is a place that encourages inclusion and enforces unity across abilities.

The ability to enjoy activities as simple as playing in the park has been redefined for children with special needs by universal playgrounds like the Sandlot. The team that is responsible for creating this space for children and families are the heroes. They work effortlessly to encourage families to bring their children to the playground and enjoy "Play" in a new dimension. Plan your visit here by checking out more about the playground and how you can support this amazing space.