May Day. Play Day!

Come Play With Us!Kenosha Dream Playground project logo

My name is Jaime Forsythe, I am part of the Kenosha Dream Playground Project team. Maybe you have heard of us?  We are working with the city of Kenosha and the Kenosha Achievement Center to build a safe, accessible, fully inclusive playground at Kennedy Park in Kenosha.

Now you might say, “Kenosha already has lots of playgrounds and of course everyone can play there!”  However, my youngest daughter, Amity, was born with Spina Bifida, a birth defect that has left her paralyzed below the hips and using a wheelchair as her main way of getting around.  So when I take her and her friends to the playground she has to either sit out or drag herself through dirty woodchips and painstakingly pull herself up stairs that were not made for her.  It can be heartbreaking to see a child not be able to play, because we know that play is the way that all children learn about and experience life.

Others have said “Oh, a playground for disabled children.” Read More…Yet, the playground we are dreaming of has many wonderful components for children (and parents, grandparents, and other caregivers) of all abilities. For children with mobility issues it has wide ramps with railings, transfer platforms around the slides and a smooth rubber and polyurethane surface surrounding all of the equipment. There would also be plenty of open space to make it easy for people with walkers and wheelchairs to get around.  However in addition to these features that help children with mobility needs there will also be rock walls and ladders for typically developing children and children who are learning these skills. kenosha dream playground swings The “Dream” playground also has high backed swings and wheelchair swings right next to regular swings, so the children can play together and make friends with each other regardless of ability.  There are two rows of monkey bars right next to each other too, one up high and one down low enough for a child in a wheelchair to reach up and explore this different way of propelling himself.

On top of the items that help children with physical disabilities there will be pieces of equipment that are designed to help children with other special needs as well. For children who are visually impaired, a textured, concrete guide wall with artwork and braille and many musical and noise making elements, such as a steering wheel that makes noise like a rain stick when it is turned.  Kenosha dream playground wheelThe many signs on the playground would be in braille also. Many of the musical instruments will vibrate when used so that children who are hearing impaired or have sensory issues can enjoy them too. Speaking of sensory issues, it would have sand and water features that children with autism (as well as others) seem to enjoy, and safe rocking and spinning components as well.  But, the thing that parents of children with special needs seem to appreciate most is that the playground will be fenced, with only one way in and out, to make supervision easier and children safer.

Dream%20Playground

I hope I have painted a vivid picture of the “Dream Playground”.  I am working with other team members to make sure everyone is aware of our efforts.  Just this last weekend I had the opportunity to meet many people and share this vision at the KUSD’s Academic Showcase.  I took this time to stress that this is a community effort. We have already had success with school fundraisers and feel that this is a great way for the young people in the community to feel a sense of ownership of the playground.  I also took a drive to “Possibility Playground” in Port Washington for a Kenosha Day Play Date this past Sunday.   This playground is the inspiration for the “Dream” playground and where many of the pictures used here were taken.  I was joined by many of our dedicated team members who already either work with children with special needs or are respected advocates for the City of Kenosha.  There were also other members of the community who had accepted our invitation to come there.  When people see this playground it helps them envision the one that will built in Kenosha and usually inspires them to join our effort.

The team, headed by Tammy Conforti, and I have made a lot of progress in the nine short months since we started.  This Saturday, May 4th we are unveiling our “Future Home of The Kenosha Dream Playground Project” sign in Kennedy Park at 3:00 P.M., many community leaders will be speaking at this event and I would be happy to see any Just Add Kids readers to join us as well. We also have a fundraiser coming up on May 18th and many fundraisers in the months to come.  We will have a booth at Harbor Market and at most of the downtown summer activities, stop by and say “Hi”. Thank you for taking time to read this and become aware of us.

Our motto is “A community that embraces, engages, and invests in its children embraces, engages, and invests in its future!”

For more information:
”Like” us on Facebook “Kenosha Dream Playground Project”

Contact:
Tammy Conforti-
tammyjconforti@yahoo.com or (262)948-1956
Jaime Forsythe- djfor89@aol.com or (262)697-1077

To donate:
Checks payable to KAC (Playground Project on memo line)
1218 79th Street,  Kenosha WI 53143

Or donate online:
www.thekac.com/playground

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