I got the idea for EAPP from watching philanthropist Wallis Annenberg on TV, who donated money for
an accessible tree house in California. I thought to myself, “Why can’t we have something like that here in Albuquerque?” Ms. Annenberg was my inspiration for Every Ability Plays Project.
I believe play is very important for every child, whether they are disabled or not. When my sister and I were little, my mom would take us to the park. Sometimes, my mom would be too tired to get on the swing with me. I was that child watching my little sister swing and wishing there was a special swing for me. I know there are other children wishing the same thing.
Every Ability Plays Project purchases different types of swings. We have a swing for the child who can’t sit up at all, a swing for children who can’t sit up by themselves, and wheelchair swings. I also envision merry-go-rounds for wheelchairs and high sand boxes. EAPP serves blind and Deaf children a well.
Even though Every Ability Plays Project focuses on playground equipment for children with disabilities, it doesn’t mean these special playgrounds do not have toys or equipment for children who can walk. They also include everyday swing sets and slides with stairs. EAPP believes children of all abilities can and shouldplay together.
Education: If we can teach children and adults of all abilities they can play together. There would be no more staring at that child who is in the wheelchair, or at that little girl who doesn’t like to be touched, who likes to be alone because she has Autism when the mother takes them out to the store or public places. There has been an ugly barrier when it comes to a child without a disability seeing a child with a disability. Why? There are not enough public places to serve children with disabilities and those without disabilities to play together. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if both sets of parents could talk to each other in one same place about their children’s future? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we heard a parent telling their child, “Go play with that child because she or he is not any different from you. They just play different?” Playing is the first communication for a child. This is how a child learns how to interact with people. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have a few parks where children with all abilities could start to interact with each other at a very early age? For this to happen, all parks must have special equipment for children with all abilities starting with wider sidewalks and special grounds so that a child in a wheelchair can get around all over the park. Right now, not every playground has swings for children who can’t sit up by themselves or for children who can’t sit up at all. I have yet to see a slide that is 100% wheelchair accessible. Yes, there are slides that have ramps attached, but the parent has to take the wheelchair all the way around the park just to get this wheelchair to the bottom of the slide, and the child has to stay laying down waiting for the chair. That is difficult when she wants to get up right away and start playing again. For the child who has Autism, playing music is something wonderful to her. She also likes to be in a quiet place by herself. Every playground should have these kinds of special equipment. This is the only way we can hug and get close to these children by making play accessible to them. There is something I strongly disagree about regarding the design of accessible playgrounds I have been to. I don’t like that they don’t have all of the equipment mixed together with the abled-children’s equipment. Instead, they have the equipment for the children with Autism clear across from the other equipment. What is that telling the children who don’t have disabilities? Isn’t that telling them they can’t play together with the other kids? Why can’t that child run around the equipment that the child with Autism is in?