Nine years ago (!!!), I was on the steering committee and Sarah Kate was one of a handful of “poster children” for the fundraising campaign for an accessible playground to be built in Decatur, Alabama. I spoke to a number of local groups about the importance of inclusive play, and she was featured in a few newspaper articles. Unfortunately, the playground was completed after we had moved from the area, so my kids have never been able to use it (though we were invited back for the opening).
But I’m happy to say that our personal dream has been realized.
Mayberry spent this spring and summer replacing all of the older, non-accessible equipment in our downtown playground, and several hundred people turned out for the ribbon cutting on Saturday morning (I got to sneak a few photos beforehand).
Is it perfect? No.
Is it 100% accessible in every way? No.
But it has ramps and a smooth rubber surface and it’s easy to spot your kid as he charges through the equipment like a man on fire. On Saturday at the dedication, I loved seeing Sarah Kate’s canes set to the side of the ramp with no Sarah Kate in sight.
In his opening remarks, our mayor thanked one mom – her name is Katie Evans – for providing the push that the city needed to seriously consider the project, and eventually get it done. Katie ran up against some daunting obstacles, but in the end her dream became a reality, and for that I am thankful.
The Dogwood Trail Maids were on hand for the festivities (I know some of you are fascinated with the girls in Easter-egg-colored hoop skirts so I had to post them 🙂 ). To my knowledge, none of them are named Lemon or Crickett, but … you never know.
And our governor, Robert Bentley, was in attendance (and spoke!), as well.
Nathan played the permanent instruments, ran up the ramp to the slides, and generally got hot and sweaty and had a good time. Sarah Kate was a bit more subdued, but she still had the opportunity to play, not just watch from the sidelines like she would have done on the old playground.
Oh, and swinging. He enjoyed the swinging, though he doesn’t quite have the hang of it yet.
The kids also got to meet Governor Bentley.
We might possibly have gotten moved up in the line waiting to get a photo taken because Mr. Andi’s boss, the mayor, may have sorta-kinda put us ahead of another family. Or two. Which normally I wouldn’t go along with but Sarah Kate was seriously sagging by that time.