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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!