Many of us celebrate Thanksgiving this month with our friends and family and we often talk about the things in our lives for which we are grateful. I was recently a part of a wonderful community event that illustrated one of the many reasons I am grateful to live and work in Shelby County and I wanted to take this opportunity to share.
From the moment I started working for the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, I heard a lot about the plans for the inclusive playground. You may have recently read articles about the fund-raising, community build and finally, the ribbon-cutting ceremony last month. What struck me most about the entire project, from start to finish, was the amount of community support this playground received. From creating the plans, funding the project and to building it, there were so many organizations and individuals collaborating to ensure that this playground would become a reality for our community.
This makes me incredibly proud and grateful to live in a community that recognizes the value in
providing opportunities for people of all abilities to access the community. By eliminating the barriers to access the space and thoughtfully designing play areas that benefit children of all abilities, the community has opened up a brand new opportunity for so many families in the area. It is beneficial not only for children, but also for their caregivers.
Caregivers and parents who may have had mobility challenges themselves may have struggled to access a typical playground. Parents of children with mobility challenges may have been reluctant to access another playground. Now everyone has the chance to take their loved ones to a park to play alongside their friends, neighbors and family members, with and without disabilities and to create new connections.
I believe that our differences make us a more vibrant community and inclusion applies to all aspects of our lives. We are all valued members of the community no matter what. Inclusion creates a sense of belonging for everyone and this playground is a tangible example that our community values people of all abilities.
Thank you to everyone who was involved with this incredible project. If you haven’t seen it yet, the playground is located at the Geib Pavillion in Tawawa Park in Sidney. For more information on the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, check out our Facebook page at https:// www.facebook.com/shelbydd.org/ or our website at www.shelbydd.org.
The writer is the superintendent of the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Leigh Anne Wenning