RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a playground designed so all kids can play equally.
An “inclusive playground” is coming to Richardson. For parents such as Stephanie Paresky, it’s a game changer.
“There’s just not a lot of places where kids of all abilities can get together and play,” says Paresky, who lives in Richardson.
Her 5-year-old son Solomon was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair or walker. They have to drive across the metroplex to find a park where he can play independently. At Cottonwood Park in Richardson, the playground is considered ADA-accessible but is not necessarily easy to navigate.
So the new, inclusive playground that will be built in its place will be breaking ground in more ways than one.
“We’ll have ramping structures on the playground that will enable not only kids with mobility challenges but also adults,” says Lori Smeby, Director of Parks and Recreation for Richardson.
It will also have a “sensory-rich design” with smooth rubber surfacing and hopefully a fence. It will be a playground destination for any child, including those with limited mobility, sensory or developmental challenges.
“This is a way of life for us,” says Dina Alsaid, a Richardson mom whose son Abe has autism. “We have to think everyday, ‘How are we going to function in society?’ For children that are even younger than my children, they now have somewhere they can have a birthday party, a family function.”
The inclusive playground is a collaboration between the city and Richardson East Rotary Club. Its $250,000 price tag will be be funded by bond money and private donations, including more than $3,000 raised by Richardson students. For Alsaid, it’s more than a place to play.
“It helps children understand that each one is different,” she says.
“And that it’s okay to be friends with someone who doesn’t look like you or walk the same way as you, and so it’s really important for everybody to learn,” says Paresky.
Construction on the playground should begin sometime in 2019. Members of the community will help build it.