Dreams becoming reality

Region 3 Winner: The Princess Alexa Foundation, Keller, Texas

The plans for Alexa’s Playground are coming along nicely. The playground designs are complete, and we are waiting to see the final layout with the colors. The grounds of Keller Sports Park have been leveled, and soon the space will be surveyed to determine accurate placement of the inclusive playground equipment. As we get closer to completion, we’re getting even more excited to see this dream of Alexa’s become a reality.

In addition to finalizing the playground designs and site plans, the Princess Alexa Foundation is working to secure funding. Recently, we were chosen as one of the beneficiaries of a local charity golf tournament. We are also working on a couple of grant proposals, and hope to connect with a local businessman who is influential within the community.

Sunday Night is Football Night

If you’re a football fan, you probably watch Sunday Night Football each weekend. What you might not pay attention to is the halftime show. However, last night, the halftime show featured Shane’s Inspiration and Landscape Structures playground equipment at Westside Park in L.A. The organization will be featured as part of Toyota’s Halftime Hand Off program, which aids organizations that use sports as a vehicle for change.

Jungle Wall at Westside Park

The Halftime Hand Off program profiles four organizations on the Toyota Facebook page each week, and asks fans to vote for the charity they feel is most deserving of support. The organization receiving the most votes each week receives a $10,000 donation from Toyota and is featured during the following week’s halftime show segment.

In addition to being featured on NBC’s Sunday Night Football and the $10,000 donation, NBC will create a 2-minute video on Shane’s Inspiration’s behalf that will be posted on YouTube and Facebook.

Congratulations to Shane’s Inspiration!

Children are our inspiration

The City of Gig Harbor, Wash., is the region one winner of the Together We Play™ essay contest. Their essay explains their inspiration behind submitting an essay–providing a place where all of their children can play together. Read the excerpt below to truly understand what inspired these moms.

“Our children are our inspiration. We are a group of mothers who have bonded together over the past 10 years–working hard to make our community a better place for our special needs children and for those to come in the future. In this case, we are members of the ‘Committee for an Inclusive Playground in the City of Gig Harbor.’ Each of us has a unique story–traumatic and often sad–and our children have many different diagnoses including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, autism, developmental delays, chromosome abnormalities and epilepsy. Yet, each family also has a typically developing child, and that has inspired us to create an inclusive playground.”

Children of all abilities should play together on the playground.

Imagine…

We read so many great essays when deciding the winners of the Together We Play™ contest, and want to share with you excerpts from the winning submissions. Here is part of what drew us in to learn more about the Sensory Garden Playground Initiative at the Wheaton Park District in Wheaton, Ill.

Imagine the sounds of happy children running, climbing, swinging and digging, while parents chat nearby. Imagine the relaxing atmosphere of unstructured play which encourages problem-solving and socialization among peers. Imagine entire families enjoying recreation together.

Now imagine the nightmare a park can be for families of children with sensory processing problems–too much noise, too much contact, no place to withdraw safely. Imagine the panic of parents when a child on sensory overload runs away, or the embarrassment when their child becomes overwhelmed and bites or hits another child. Imagine a family’s frustration at not being able to enjoy a park atmosphere because the facility isn’t safe and welcoming for a child with special emotional needs.

We imagined all this and more.

Then we saw a safely fenced play area with room for children to spread out, surrounded by a fitness trail for adults. We saw surfacing where wheeled devices move easily and equipment is designed to engage sight, hearing, smell, movement and touch. We saw places where a child can withdraw easily and safely, so that each one can learn to regulate his or her own sensory input. We saw a welcoming place where whole families can relax and engage and enjoy their time together.

We saw the need for a multi-community effort to build a world-class facility, and we are ready and willing to lead in making it a reality.

Guest Blog: Creating community

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Now that Stephani Victor, Paralympic gold medalist and Together We Play™ essay contest judge, has finished reading the essays, she’s even more in awe of those who submitted them.

It has truly been an honor and rewarding experience to contribute to this most generous award opportunity that I know will be embraced whole heartedly by the winners. I learned a lot through this process. I cried, I felt people’s loss and community need. I felt their frustration with failing budgets and poorly maintained or inaccessible playgrounds in existence. But most importantly, I felt their passion, their commitment and authentic motivation to bring people together for the purpose of play. I have thought a lot about “playing” and what that means in my life, how it has shaped my life and how we have a responsibility as a society to ensure everyone has an opportunity to “play.” It’s important that we provide a place for everyone to go that is safe, where they can explore, grow and develop their imaginations and, ultimately, their sense of self.

I am also deeply affected by the idea of inclusion and what that really means. And how damaging exclusion can be, even if it comes from well-meaning parents who want to exclude able-bodied children from playing with their child with special needs because they are trying to protect them. Ultimately, any exclusion has negative consequences for everyone. I am so committed to the exploration of inclusion–in life–for adults, too. I am really grateful to you for sharing your insights and educating me. I have mountains of respect for you and your teammates, who are so committed to making a difference in lives of so many. Lastly, I appreciated the reminder that each of us gets to create our community and if we would like things to change, we need to start with ourselves.

Supporting inclusive play

As many of you are aware, all of us at Landscape Structures are focused on providing playgrounds where all children and families can play together. While we’ve always created play experiences that are accessible and age appropriate, in 2010, we began focusing on providing a higher level of inclusive play. That includes providing sensory-stimulating playground components.
 
To continue our efforts in supporting truly inclusive playgrounds, we’ve introduced three new products–the Color Splash Panel™, Rain Sound Wheel Panel™ and Roller Table™. These products will welcome children of all abilities while developing gross motor skills, encouraging imaginative play and giving them a “just right” amount of sensory stimulation.
 

L to R: Rain Wheel Sound Panel, Roller Table and Color Splash Panel