My family recently visited the beautiful Kansas City Zoo. Our family includes two boys and a special needs little girl. My daughter was diagnosed with a terminal, genetic disease, called Spinal Muscular Atrophy and uses a wheelchair daily. She calls her wheelchair her “go-go” and that’s what she wants to do! Just like any other three-year-old, she always wants to be on the move. Although she is limited in a lot of areas, she still wants to play just like her older brothers. We have had the pleasure to visit several zoos, but nothing has compared to the playground at the Kansas City Zoo. Exploration Play went above and beyond any and all our expectations.
With most playgrounds my family visit, my daughter is limited to the equipment she is able to use. Most playgrounds have mulch which is impossible for a wheelchair to drive through, not to mention the wooden border outside the mulch which wheelchairs cannot go over. Usually they do not have any “fun” activities like swings or ziplines for my daughter to play on. Because of this, we don’t spend a lot of time at parks or playgrounds. Its hard to watch my daughter feel excluded because she isn’t able to use her legs. When we visited the Exploration Play playground all those feelings were gone. This playground would make any special needs child feel valued because it was made especially for them. The solid surfacing allows my daughter to independently move wherever she wants to go. The zip line and elephant swing allowed my daughter to play with her brothers and not have to sit on the sidelines. She was able to be right there apart of everything. As a mom, the feeling is indescribable to watch your daughter have the biggest smile on her face because she can PLAY just like everyone else. She even made some new friends and showed off her wheelchair.
Studies have shown that play helps children develop emotionally, physically, socially, and cognitively. Having a disability shouldn’t make it harder for a child to play. Having inclusive playgrounds, such as Exploration Play, allows children of all ages to be able to interact with their peers. This will assist with the positive growth and development for ALL children. Every child deserves the opportunity to play outside, in a safe environment that is easily accessible and that’s exactly what Exploration Play Playground has accomplished.
I would recommend every family to come out to the Kansas City Zoo to see what Exploration Play has to offer! It really is an all inclusive experience and I couldn’t be more thankful for this space.
Rachel Enos and Family