Our mission is to build truly inclusive playgrounds in the Flathead, where adults and children can play together in a fun welcoming environment. No matter if able bodied or differently able, all will be included.
In all of the playgrounds in the Flathead Valley, not a single one of them is handicap accessible. Leaving many of our community members struggling to use the parks and playgrounds we currently have. This is something we don't realize, until it effects us directly. Now that is is noticed, it is something that needs to change and will change. We must create a barrier free playgrounds that meets the needs of everyone in the Valley. This playground would be inclusive to everyone. You see a playground isn't just for children. It is a place where parents and grandparents can have fun with their children. As an adult with a disability, often times I am left on the sidelines watching my child play. I know I am not the only one! Visiting S.O.A.R. playground in Ohio, was the most emotional experience since my daughters birth. I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to play face to face with my daughter on a jungle gym. My husband and I vowed from this moment that we would do everything in our power to come back to the Flathead and make just that happen!
Shannon and I have already set up meetings with Mayor Mark Johnson, City Manager Russell and Director of Parks and Recreation Chad Fincher. We presented to them a power point showing that we surveyed all the parks in Kalispell and not a one of them was handicap accessible. As a matter of fact as we were surveying the parks Lawrence park was under construction, but the construction did not update the park to ADA standards. Yet, again leaving out those with physical disabilities.
Did you know according to the ADA guidelines. All newly constructed and altered play facilities of public or commercial ownership must comply with the 2010 ADA standards and will no longer have a choice to use the 1991 standards. The specific sections in the 2010 ADA standards that apply to playgrounds are Chapter 2 Section 240 and Chapter 10 Section 1008.
"Disability need not be an obstacle to success … It is my hope that … this century will mark a turning point for inclusion of people with disabilities in the lives of their societies.“- Stephen Hawking -
We have brought this to the Mayor's attention. Mayor Mark Johnson agrees that the Flathead Valley needs a barrier free playground. In order to avoid having to alter every playground we could focus on one larger project as a priority, with future plans to bring all the playgrounds into compliance. Our next steps are to approve location of playground. Then to approve grants and raise the money needed to build an accessible playground. No child or adult should ever be left out. We need to break down the barriers.