ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – There is some controversy over the new adaptive playground equipment at Rose Park. Some parents are upset that children with disabilities are having to wait to use the equipment until physically-able children are finished.
Jamie Thomas said her son loves to play at the park. However, for children with disabilities – like Hunter – they cannot always play with the equipment. Hunter has autism, connective tissue disorder, epilepsy and other disabilities.
“Sometimes he requires just a little more assistance,” Thomas said.
That’s why the new adaptive equipment at Rose Park was exciting for Hunter and meant a lot to his mother.
“I wanted to get out here and see him maneuver himself around all the various equipment,” Thomas said.
Children who do not have disabilities began taking up the equipment when he needed it, according to Thomas. Just a few days ago,she said Hunter got on the sensory swing, and children who are able to use the standard swings were asking him if they could use the sensory swing.
“We want to remind people that this is a great opportunity for inclusion in our community,” Thomas explained.
Communications Director of Abilene, Mari Cockerell, said this playground was designed to include everyone, “We want all kids out there, all kids enjoying it.”
Cockerell told KTAB/KRBC the city does not monitor who uses the equipment, and it is mainly up to the parents.
“We hope for all families and parents, that they can use this as an opportunity to teach their children to observe,” Cockerell advised.
Thomas said she agrees with this solution – saying mindfulness and educating children is the only thing that will make a real change. Thomas also pointed out that teaching children to take care of the new equipment is just as important – noticing that the adaptive swings were already scratched up. She wants this equipment to stay maintained so her son can keep using this playground, like the other children around him.
The updated park was just opened within the past two weeks, and the ribbon cutting will be held at 10:00 a.m. Friday, September 30. Thomas added that she hopes this situation can be addressed there.