Memorial Park Playground Offers Accessibility
by: Capella Tucker, December 15, 2006 5:12:00 am
From a distance the playground doesn't look much different from other playgrounds. It has the usual slides and monkey bars. But as you walk closer you can see ramps lead up to the elevated paths which are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Houston Parks and Recreations Department Director Joe Turner...
"The biggest thing that makes this playground different then most playgrounds is that it's built on a rail system. And the rail system is built really so a wheelchair can move through here or at the same time it's easy for someone who doesn't have site could move through here because of the way the bars are or someone who has a problem walking can walk through this play ground easily."
Turner says they started the project focusing on children, but realized these playgrounds are for entire families.
"If you happen to be a parent with a disability it allows you to participate in the play activity of your child."
The Parks department has one other accessible playground which is in Hermann Park. It was built about ten years ago. Officials would like to add accessible playgrounds at two more parks. But that brings up the biggest obstacle they have ... fundraising because these playgrounds are built with private monies. Houston philanthropist Carolyn Farb spearheaded the fundraising effort for the Vale-Asche playground in Memorial Park.
"Most people are not aware that all playgrounds are not accessible to all people and that we had to create awareness to that hopefully in the future all playgrounds will be for all children regardless of their abilities. And also for parents and vets who may be returning from the war who may have young children."
Farb says these playgrounds teach tolerance and understanding because children of all abilities can play together. The Budge family values the importance of that lesson. The have four children ages one to eight. Six-year old Chloe has cerebral palsy-like symptoms. Steffanie Budge says too often Chloe has to sit back and watch her brothers play.
"This playground means so much to me because this is the first time my daughter has been able to play with her brothers on the same playground."
Chloe's brothers are pushing her wheelchair on the playground equipment.
"Chloe is able to get on the playground with her wheelchair and use every part of the playground while using her wheelchair. So there's not, maybe a slide that is inaccessible to her, but she is able to play just like any other child."
Log on to KUHF dot org to see pictures of the playground and Chloe playing with one of her brothers. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.