As we go through the internal judging process, I am so overwhelmed. The amount of time, energy and emotion that have gone into these essays is incredible! I can’t believe all of the communities that want to come together through play. Not just any play, but play for all–free from physical and social boundaries. Communities have put together organizations to not only bring inclusive play to their community, but also educate the population on the differences of individuals’ abilities and how to embrace them.
It is eye-opening to see the hundreds of varying definitions of the word “community” in the essays. For some, community is a large metropolis of hundreds of thousands of people. Other communities are made up of small towns that draw from several other small towns. And many remote and rural locations have yet another definition as community. One thing rings true among all of these communities, and that is their desire to bring inclusion and play to the lives of ALL in that “community.”
Everyone that submitted an essay wants to bring play to all children in their community. Some want to dedicate the playground to someone special, others want to build it in memory of someone. Many essays focus on providing inclusive playgrounds not only so all kids can play together, but also parents/guardians and grandparents can play with the kids in their lives. I have been reminded many times over of all the military moms and dads, who so courageously fight for our continued freedom, and then come home to their families with different abilities. Many now use mobility devices and can’t easily play side-by-side with their children on the playground.
Each of the essays submitted are so deserving of an inclusive playground. Our team of judges sure have a tough job ahead of them. Check back with us in the next few weeks to get their thoughts about reviewing the essays.