We believe in the power of play.
Play is important for kids.
Kids learn so many things through play.
Remember when you were a kid? I bet you can remember your favorite things to do on a playground.
Do you remember swinging so high, you got the swingset rocking as you swung up higher than the top of the swingset. That was fun. Testing your limits, developing feelings of competence, learning how to challenge yourself...
Maybe you remember the day you were brave enough to climb up to the top of that really, really tall slide? You probably remember feeling brave, and overcoming your fears...
Do you remember collaborating with your peers on a seesaw. Learning about perspective taking by observing how your friends' comfort levels could be different than your own. Maybe you loved spinning on a merry go round and seeing the world around you in a way you never had before. Maybe your school's playground had a gigantic dragon made out of old tractor tires, or something similar. I'm sure you didn't realize that you were learning about taking turns, being patient, learning how to wait for someone to move out of your way...
Play is an important part of childhood. It is your chance to interact with new people in your community outside of school, without being told what to do and how to do it. It's your chance to meet people different than yourself. A chance to make new friends.
All kids love to play. But, not all kids get to.
Outdoor play is something many of us take for granted.
But, once you learn about the barriers that prevent kids from to playing outdoors, it's hard not to notice them.
Many playgrounds have bark on the ground, or ladders to climb to get to that slide you like. Or swings & merry go rounds that don't work for your body.
While typically developing kids can climb, walk through bark, and slide, spin and swing without back support, other kids can't.
Some kids are limited by what their bodies can do.
Some are limited by their social and communication skills.
Some kids don't have families that can drive them to an inclusive playground that is over an hour away from their house. There are several reasons that kids don't get to play on playgrounds that work for their bodies.
Time. Money. Access to a car...
8.5% of kids have some kids of disability of some sort (physical, sensory, chronic health conditions, social-emotional, communication, cognitive). Of the 52,000 people living in the Snoqualmie Valley, at least 15,600 are children and at least 1300 of those children some kind of special need. Many of these children are currently in the shadows. They're in their houses; they are't getting to play outdoors with their peers. They aren't being given a chance to share their talents and abilities. They aren't getting the chance to learn by playing with their peers. And, as a result, typically developing kids aren't getting the chance to learn and become better people for having known these kids.
As many of you know, the Snoqualmie Valley is a prty incredible place to live.
For those of us, that weren't born here, we've never lived in a place like this. Many of us newcomers love it here so much that we will never leave. This community is our forever home, and we want it to be all that it can be for our kids and future generations.
This is a place with stunning beauty, culture, history, a deep sense of family and community. If you've lived here for a little while, you've met people who want to help others pretty much everywhere you go. You'll meet caring people at the Snoqualmie Post Office, City Hall, the Public Libraries, and at many of the local businesses. This community if full of people who are engaged and excited about what we already have here, and about what is possible in the future.
Pretty much every person I've shared this inclusive playground project with has immediately seen the need and wanted to help out in some way.
All parents want their kids to feel included. And, many, many, many of the parents I've met over the last ten years want their kids to BE INCLUDERS. Inclusive playgrounds are a natural place to learn this important skill. As the world becomes more diverse, the skill of being able to interact with different kinds of people is becoming more and more important in daily life and in the workplace.
Kids can learn about what it means to "Be An Includer". They can internalize what it feels like to be kind, to want to "have a loving day". And, many of them will then seek out ways to be inclusive, like my college friend's daughter, Kaiya. She designs "Be An Includer" T-Shirts.
I'm betting you've heard of kids asking for Buddy Benches for their school playgrounds. They feel proud of the loving kindness they have internalized through play.
An inclusive playground is a natural extension of what we already have here. It's going to be a space for our community to gather. A place for us all to have fun. Not just some of us, but all of us. If you want to slide, you will have a slide that works for your body. If you want to go on the merry go round, you will find one you can ride. We will have swings you can ride on with your kids, and swings that work for all kinds of bodies.
How cool is that? We think it's pretty darn awesome.
The Inclusive Playground is coming to Centennial Fields Park in the Summer of 2019. Centennial Fields is within a ten minutes drive of all 6 of the elementary schools in our district. It's only a five minute drive from I-90, and already has a large parking lot to accomodate lots of visitors.
It will replace the old play structure. We will be expanding the current footprint and enclosing it in a fence, to keep kids who are prone to bolting, or eloping when they get overwhelmed, safely contained and away from dangers like parking lots and roads.
We are adding an ADA compliant pathway to connect the playground to the Special Education Preschool at Snoqualmie Elementary School, which is right next door. The Developmental Preschool teachers are excited about bringing their students to play during school hours.
So, now you might be wondering how you can be a part of this awesomeness?
We want you to come along on this awesome journey. We are a committee full of Includers.
There are lots of ways to get involved.
-You make a donation to www.crowdrise.com/chelseasdreamplayground. We are partnered with Kiwanis and all donations are tax deductible and eligible for many corporate matching programs.
-You can volunteer and join us at one of our upcoming events
-You can come to one of our Dream Team Meetings
-You can spread to word to your friends, family and employer
-You can share our posts on social media
-You can help us find potential donors
Inclusive play helps kids find things that they have in common.
Inclusive play removes barriers and builds strong communities.
We hope you will help us bring this Inclusive Playground to the Snoqualmie Valley!