A playground for Iryl by Kendra Butler

My daughter was born with a spinal defect called Sacral Agenesis. Her spine terminates early. This affects the growth, strength and mobility of her hips, legs, knees and feet. She also has a complex heart defect where her heart has many anomalies. She can walk with a walker, but her heart will not allow her to walk for long distances, so she uses a wheelchair.

Mulch on a typical playground is difficult for her to navigate with her chair or her walker, and she needs help to push through it. She can only crawl on a play structure, which isn’t safe for someone who struggles with balance issues and it isn’t safe navigating around other children.  She struggles to stay on a swing. She cannot climb into much of the equipment built for someone her age. 

An all-abilities playground allows her freedom to access all of the equipment. Nothing is off limits. She is able to play with her brother, go where he goes, to meet new friends. So much of her world is isolating because of her body. She cannot safely go up stairs alone. She cannot tolerate extreme cold or heat. This is one way of leveling the playing field, of allowing her safe recreation with her peers. 

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