nobody puts baby in the corner

Having a disability sometimes forces you to the sidelines.  It stinks. Especially if you are like me and want to be part of the action.  

4 Things I Would Love to Do
(Yeah, yeah…these are the things that crossed my mind at this very second, I’m sure I could actually think of 4,000)

Standing on Risers
I was in choir in High School and my first year of college. When we had concerts our group stood on U-shaped risers. As you can imagine, standing on risers with crutches is tricky. I was always stuck on the floor.  Luckily, I’m short so my placement made sense – I was not a giant on the floor surrounded by 5’2 pixies. Regardless, having the chance to stand on a different row always looked fun. 

Climbing Bleachers
Bleachers stink. Throughout Middle School and High School, I hated sporting events because I couldn’t climb the bleachers. I felt bad making my friends sit on the bottom row. Also, if the bottom row was full, there were not a lot of options for me. Watching people step from row-to-row and work their way up is facinating to me.  Kinda weird, I know. 

Squatting
I think it would be so amazing to squat down and stand back up. You could pick stuff up or reach things on the ground with such ease. I can squat when I’m not using my crutches but then I need to hold on to something to help me back up…kinda like I’m an old geezer {wink}. I love it when people squat. It just looks fun and is a total gift. I dare you to squat today and know you are AWESOME.

Jungle Gyms
Playgrounds are always unpredictable. Walking in sand and wood chips on crutches isn’t fun. Sloped rubber mats with sand is slick and requires focus while able-bodied kids whiz by.  Beyond the slippery aspect, anything sloped and combined with crutches is an armpit assault. 

I’d like to run, jump, climb and be able to keep up with my son. I really want to do the monkey bars and hang upside by my legs!

Parents with disabilities must find themselves standing below while the kids run around. My son will smile down at me and yell for me to come up. I often leave my crutches down below and make my way to the top. However, the moment I get up it seems my son has jumped back down. So it’s an exhausting game and to top it off, I’m always afraid other kids might move my crutches on me. It’s a little risky.

Ed Haydin, Architect & Hart Park VisionaryWhen my neighbor and local architect mentioned that he was working on a new park for the city that he thought I would love, I was super excited. 

Hart Park recently opened and I was blown away.  It still  offers the opportunity for wild children to climb and make their way up the jungle gym but there is also a ramp that weaves its way to the top. The way it is added flows with the structure perfectly. It doesn’t look like an adaptive addition.

The playground features a devoted sandbox area off to the side and the rest of the terrain is a soft and rubbery textured mat. It’s flat and super nice to walk on. There are no steps, ledges or barriers that could keep a disabled child or disabled parent away from the action.

Damian Buchman, TAC FounderEven if I can’t do everything, I like to be in the middle of things and soaking up the experience. This new park makes it possible.

My friend Damian Buchman (bone cancer survivor and founder of The Ability Center) recently shared the quote below about our new park on his site.  I have to admit it feels good to know there are other adults who think like me and appreciate little gifts such as this park around the city. I’m not alone.

Though I am not permanently in a wheelchair, I do use one so I can go on walks with my wife and son. As I get older my limb salvages are getting weaker and more painful — this is one of the possible effects I knew I would face later in life, one of the many reasons why I’m so dedicated to access and universal design. And, as a new father with a disABILITY, I have seen a new light. While it is absolutely fantastic that this playground is accessible for kids with disABILITIES, as a father who loves to “play,” it is equally important for parents with disABILITIES.

One thought on “nobody puts baby in the corner

  1. Two summers ago I found out my town, Missoula, MT, was working on building an all-abilities playground. They are breaking ground this summer and I can’t wait to take my daughter to it. ❤

    Like

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