Our youngest one decided yesterday was a great day for a ride to the playground. Once she arrived at the slide, her monologue went something like this:Whoa, whoa, eke! This isn’t going very well. I huff and I puff and I go go go!!!!
She summed up my post inauguration feelings exactly.
On the playground, a seven year old decided to program these questions into the augmentative communication devices of the two girls (beautiful and non verbal, blind and quadriplegic ) with whom I work:
Do you have a hero?
Are you like your hero in anyway?
Which of their deeds do you most admire?
Are you like a hero to anyone?
Then this wise souled little girl proceeded to answer the questions when the girls accessed their voice output switches, asking the questions.:
“I think Helen Keller is one of my heroes. It is not really any particular deed I admire but just the way she persisted. She didn’t see obstacles as a stop sign, rather, she found ways to get over, under, around or through them.”
One of my heroes, you ask? This little girl.
We went to the most accessible playground in the universe last week. The massive, ramp laden, sensory filled, bouncy astro turf covered, shaded, structures made this Rockport, Massachusetts school playground, the best I have ever seen. The twins were just as content cruising and crawling on the low ramps as the local Tweens were playing a dungeons and dragons game on the seven different slides and high ramps. I could picture some of my students with autism grooving out on the attached, spinning objects and my favorite kid in a wheelchair could navigate the entire structure. What’s the point? This playground is an incredible example of Universal Design. It is a symbol that everyone in that community has a right to interact on equal ground.
How do we provide equal ground to people in our communities, so that everyone has equal access to Parent Teacher Organizations, schools, places of worship, the parking lot and…..?
I met the most wonderful dad on a playground outside of Ithaca this afternoon. After I pointed out my wife and kids, he began to talk about his three year old who loves My Little Pony more than anything and is willing to trade in the long expired pacifier for a giant Snow White. This big, macho sports writer said he loves his son just the way he is. He continued to share how earlier in the day, “Jack” asked to wear his Wonder Woman outfit to the dump, his dad said, “of course” and away they went. I shared a bit about the transgender youth in our elementary schools in Ithaca and this dad said,”this here seems like a good community, I don’t see it how it could problem here either”. .. It won’t be, because that kid… has that dad.