Today, we have a feel-good story out of Joliet, IL. The United Cerebral Palsy (UCerebral Palsy) of Illinois Prairieland’s center has just opened what is believed to be the State’s 1st fully-wheelchair-accessible playground!
The playground features specialized swings which accommodate wheelchairs, swings for disabled students who do not use a wheelchair, a wheelchair accessible slide, stations for sensory play (which feature musical toys & encourage students to stretch their arms and touch), and even what’s described as a large “boat” which glides back and forth (the swaying motion aids in balance). “I was so happy I was crying,” 69-year-old Mary Ann Harvey said, recounting her first time on the swings. “They can’t keep me off of them.”
The playground is, of course, a hit with children as well. “I can play like everyone else can and that makes me feel good,” said a student named Katie. “I think it’s really awesome,” she continued. “Nobody is left out now.” The playground is open to all, and even some neighborhood children have already visited.
Both students and adults from UCerebral Palsy served on the committee – interviewing different playground designers and discussing what they wanted on the playground. The $230,000 it took to build the playground was donated by private contributions. Upgrades to the park are already in plan, said Eloise Crabb, director of fund development.
UCerebral Palsy of Illinois serves students and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. The Prairieland center serves about 50 students and 70 adult clients.