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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ellie-Accessible: another venture out

Hello faithful readers. I am back. Was busy dealing with life and some actual work on my so called career. My book will be out in a few months and I was busy working on it to get it to the publisher (I’m actually not joking about that) and of course when it is done, I will let everyone and their brother know (also not joking- so get ready!).

This post is dedicated to the woman who will not be named (W3NBN) at Ellie’s old school (who has since left) who double talked me, acted like she didn’t understand me and then did her utmost best to ignore everything I told her about handicap accessible playgrounds. She thought it was just fine that there was nothing that Ellie could do at the playground at the old school which had no swings and no sandbox (the two things that Ellie might have been able to enjoy).

Clarification of terms for W3NBN
By handicap accessible, I mean easy (versus hard like over woodchips or other obstacles) wheelchair access to the ENTIRE THING! I also mean swings that comfortably support someone with gross motor issues. Throwing in some sensory integration classics like the incredibly complicated, hard to get, never before heard of Sandbox is also a very good idea.

Of course in my head I call all handicap accessible things Ellie-accessible.

In California, my friend Kate, yes that is the same guardian angel who donated a substantial amount of breast milk to Ellie who was her daughter’s NICU neighbor, told me about this charity that went around making playgrounds accessible to the disabled. All you had to do was call them up and tell them about a playground that needed to be converted. As a result there were a lot of Ellie-accessible playgrounds round Southern California. I don’t know of any such charity here.

Note to self: start such a charity once you have a couple of good solid nights of sleep.

Some things Ellie-accessible would not include are the dreaded, wheel jamming/dragging, bumpy, brain scrambling, migraine inducing wood chips. And I beg to differ, W3NBN, no amount of packing them down each year will make them any better at accommodating a wheelchair and it’s Hypotonic user who already has enough trouble holding her head up.

No – instead of the woodchips this recycled tire material is so much better. It’s flat, flat, flat and spongy. If a kid fell on it, it would do far less damage than even woodchips and certainly asphalt. It is soft and spongy and a wheelchair glides over it with ease. It seemed thin enough to handle the natural contours of the park as well. This stuff is on every part of this lovely and completely Ellie-accessible playground at, guess where, no other than New School. The wonder and following gratitude never cease for New School.

Pièce de Résistance

Yes, this was one of our latest outings, low key though it was. We took Ellie one Saturday morning to her school to check out the playgrounds. We heard they were Ellie-accessible and they were. What a wonderful thing. There were these tumbleform swings (like the one Ellie is in) that cushion and support Ellie so she feels safe, unjostled and can just enjoy the swing without having to try and keep herself upright and from bashing into metal chains at each side like on the baby swings. The smiles tell it all.

You can wheel right up it and around the whole thing. The slides seem a bit bigger than the ones at our neighborhood play ground and are padded on the sides. Dave had no trouble taking Ellie down them. So, if you are out there and in a position to make a difference from some kid who would like to climb the tower like all the other kids, here’s what it might look like.

Last but not least, I just have to say, don’t all little girls need a dada who will carry them around the playground, up and down slides, on seesaws, and everywhere they direct him to go? Ellie is so lucky!


Mel said...

I love love love that playground! I'm wishing we had a charity like that around here too.

Yes, Ellie is lucky to have such a fun dad!

Angela said...

Fantastic. We have "Possibility Place"

It was built last year and we plan on spending some time there with Jack as soon as we can. We donated a fence post in Jack's honor and can't wait to get a picture of Jack with his post!

I am so happy that you found an Ellie Accessible (or as we say "Jack Friendly") area to play!

I love the pics!

Kathryn said...

Mel - thanks!

Angela - Wow - I went to the link. Possibility Place is BEAUTIFUL! What a wonderful thing for the community to have done. I can't wait to see you Jack by his post.

Thanks for sharing this. It's just another example of what is possible. It really doesn't have to be all that hard to include everyone! I am glad for Jack that he has a play ground he can really play at.


Lisa said...

You GO!

That is so cool! I've seen some accessibility done with playgrounds, but that is really nice.

This would even work for us, because when we all go to the park together, dad is left hovering outside the pit of kitty litter and can just veiw from afar. The kids would really have fun if he could go up the towers with them. I've seen that foam stuff places. It is pretty nice. Bad W3NBN! What a boxbrain!

You know, I'm going to check into this for our community. I might see what parks and rec have to offer, or we even have a church playground that is due to be moved soon. I wonder if we could do something better with it for the whole community.

And you have a book deal? You rock! I look forward to hearing more about it.

Angela said...

I so forgot to add my HOORAYS and CONGATS on the book!!!!!!! And I can say I knew you back when ;)

Miracles said...

These parks are awesome!! All the new parks that are being built here in Canada are geared up this way. Which means no one gets left out.
Funny how it took soooo long for someone to realize that not all kids are the same. But yet they are the same. They all love to have fun and laugh. Ellie sure seems to be having fun! what a great dad she has.
Congrats on the book, can't wait to hear about it's big release debut!!

Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to get back and read your post more thoroughly. My mum suggested that I print it out and send it to the local council to ask them why we don't have Ellie-accessible parks here.

Congrats on the book. What is it about?


Kathryn said...

Hi everyone! Thanks for all the great info on other such playgrounds. It's great to know they exist.

Thanks as well for the congrats on the book. I can't wait till it's done!

Jacqui - I have to say your mum is so cool. I read her comments on blogs we both frequent including yours and I have to say she is great.

I wanted to say to also check out Angela's link if you haven't already to Possibility Place. What a great example of a community group in action.

Angela - if you have any pictures of the sensory bit of it, I would dearly love to see what that looks like. I couldn't find pics of that part but read about it at the site.

My book - it's a leadership fable about how anyone can have more impact on the things they are trying to achieve. It came out of three years of research on the subject including data my coauthor and I gathered from hundreds of executives and leaders.

When it's out I will post a pic of it and the link to it on Amazon etc. It will be a few months, hopefully only two, but there's a lot involved. It is like giving birth though - a lot of work even after the writing part is done.

Jacqui, I hope you get a park like this for Moo. The recycled rubber stuff is really great and you can't really see it in the pics but the ramps on the wooden play structure have some variations like smooth little waves and things that make going over them in a wheelchair fun.


Maureen said...


Your post really is great about the park. I think you should start a group in your area (time permitting of course, ha!) I went to Tom's Farm in Pomona on Saturday and thought about Ellie as I walked through a clearance tent with sawdust on the floor. I wondered how Ellie accessible it would be? There was a wheelchair ramp up into the main store and the aisles seemed pretty wide - great park area for the kids - but I didn't explore it too much. My congrats again on the book - I can't wait to read it!

Love, Maureen

Penny L. Richards said...

You might be thinking of Shane's Inspiration? They consult, design, and build accessible playgrounds in Southern California. Here's the website:

We love these parks, and we've walked/strolled/rolled in several 5Ks to help support their work.

Kathryn said...

Penny - BINGO! That is exactly what I was thinking of but could not remember the name. Thanks for this link.

That's a great idea to do a 5k to support inclusive playgrounds. We need more of this on the East Coast. Ya gotta love California.

Thanks so much for this information!

Janis Creason said...

I came across your great blog and just wanted to thank you for your kind comments about Possibility Place. As a founding member of the committee that built the playground, it is heartwarming to hear that will be able to enjoy it. In fact, Possibility Place West is being built in Mechanicsburg and will have the same wonderful features. If I can ever be of help to you in the area of accessible playgrounds, please let me know. We've developed some great resources and contacts here in Harrisburg, PA.

Janis Creason