In the summer of 2011 I received an invitation to attend a meeting about a new project. I was hesitant because the summer is a busy time for events and I was not sure I could devote the time that was needed for a new project. However, I am grateful I attended as the next eight years were incredibly eye-opening and rewarding.
I currently serve on the Play for All Playground & Garden Foundation Board in support of the Sensory Garden Playground project, alongside many others who are as committed as I am to building a barrier-free and accessible playground. In the first few years of planning, we spent countless hours working with Landscape Structures and Shane’s Inspiration to design a playground for all. Yes, a playground for all kids, with or without any unique physical or sensory needs. We gave presentations, wrote grants, met with corporate donors, held fundraisers; and in 2015, we celebrated the opening of the 2-to-5-year-old playground. That phase included a sound garden, a fragrance garden and a central gathering place. In 2017 and 2018 we saw several of our Art Along the Way sculptures installed. Now, in 2019, we are getting ready to start the next phase, which will include an accessible treehouse.
As a mom of two girls, I spent a great deal of time at our local playground. I am now the grandmother of a 3-year-old boy named Jameson. As I have watched him interact with other children, I am reminded how important playgrounds are for developing social skills. I was introduced to the world of sensory processing disorders through this project and was overwhelmed by the lack of inclusive play spaces. The Sensory Garden Playground has helped break down barriers and allows children to play alongside one another.
I am so proud and appreciative of our board, committee members, volunteers and our generous donors. I feel that if we have made a difference in just one child’s life, then I know that was the best meeting invite I’ve ever accepted.