Great day at the park with our Golden Ticket WINNERS. In Cali playdates are common, back home in Massachusetts where I was raised we didn't do playdates. We went outside and played in our yard with our siblings and our neighbors. We played tag, ghost in the grave yard and street hockey or soccer. But here in Cali playdates are organized and coordinated amongst parents and if you aren't having playdates then your kid must not be popular...lol. So what's so special about a play date at the park you might ask?
Well EVERYTHING of course! Everything from the children having special needs, needing special accomodations and the fact that they NEVER happen for these special kids. CRAZY I must admit. I plan playdates for the little ones all the time. Djordan has a playdate with one of his best friends at least once a week. Djaeda has friends over all the time. But poor Djanai only get to hang out with their friends not hers. Could it be because she's older? Or because we are always to busy with school and/or therapy? Is it because of all her special needs that we can't just let her go anywhere? Well it's all of the above. Having a child with special needs can be so overwhelming at times that I think as a parent we are afraid to take on dealing with another child who has special needs.
Today, these kids really showed us how much they are just like every other child. They want to play and have fun with their school friends outside of school. They wanna hang out and chill with their buddies too. It was the cutest thing to see the excitement in their faces when they saw each other outside of school for the first time. We took the kids to the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreational Park on Hazeltine & Huston. This is an All Abilities Playground like those of Shane's Inspiration. We chose the park because we figured this would be the safest and easiest place to take them all, where everyone could have a good time.
I take Djanai to the park with her siblings all the time and she just loves to be around all kids. But you do notice rather quickly that these parks are not all truly accessible to all. They have come a long ways and are much better then what they use to be in the fact that they now have wheelchair accessibility to a degree and some swings for handicapped children which are bigger and more like bucket seats for safety reasons. One thing you will notice is that all of accessible spaces and swings are in the hot sun and not covered by any shade. Our children with special needs can't complain or move themselves to areas that are shaded so why would you put the kids who can't fend for themselves in the hot sun and the typical ones under all the shaded area when they don't even sit still and are constantly on the move? These are little things that people don't think about when they say...there's plenty to do with your child just take them to the park.
There are few to no indoor play spaces that are capable of handling children with multiple physical disabilities. Autism is on the rise and the most common disability today and places are easily and quickly adapting to this special need but what about those who are in wheelchairs? Many places don't offer enough space FOR WHEELCHAIRS to get through or for a child to have a wheelchair in a play space usually they don't want wheels or shoes on the carpet because its not as clean for the other children who play on the floor. All little things that people don't think about.
Here are some pictures of what made this playdate extra special.