In January of 2020, I participated in a news interview about playground accessibility. A young girl in the Rochester area named Santii was selling hot cocoa for $1 per cup in order to raise money for an accessible swing. Santii wanted to do this because when she was playing on a playground, she noticed another child who used a wheelchair was not able to participate in a lot of the activities on the playground. Santii wanted to change that.
When I learned about Santii’s goal, I connected her with a local organization called Endless Highway. This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to ensuring children and young adults with physical disabilities have opportunities to participate in adaptive and inclusive sports, recreation and arts. Endless Highway loved Santii’s initiative and her goal to get an accessible swing installed in our area. So, they committed to helping Santii reach her goal!
Over the past year, Santii and Endless Highway have worked tirelessly, even through the pandemic, to reach Santii’s goal of getting an accessible swing! They connected with Jill Moore White, an inclusive play specialist at Landscape Structures, Inc., who also uses a wheelchair. Jill introduced Santii and Endless Highway to different accessible playground options, specifically the We-Go-Round and the We-Go-Swing. The We-Go-Round is a merry-go-round with built in seating and open spaces for wheelchair users. It spins in circles when propelled by the kids (or adults!) playing on it. The We-Go-Swing is a swing that allows a power wheelchair or manual wheelchair user and ambulatory kids to play together.
After Santii, Endless Highway and Jill joined forces, they got one more player on board: the town of Greece, a suburb of Rochester. Together, they accomplished more than just Santii’s goal of installing one accessible swing. They got an entire accessible playground! The playground includes a We-Go-Round, a We-Go-Swing, music and tactile sensory areas and more!
Building the Accessible Playground
After watching all of this unfold in such little time, I was excited to join the Community Build days where members of the community came out to help build this incredible accessible playground! We installed equipment, tested the playground and had so much fun!
I cannot wait until this playground officially opens so that I can bring all of my nieces and nephews to the park where we can all play together!
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.