Last summer I wrote about Dana Millington, a mom who is honoring her daughter by creating an inclusive playground in her Minnesota community. Today’s post is about another mom who has built a playground for her son in Oregon.
When Mona Pinon’s son Isaac was just 4 months old, he was paralyzed after a cancerous tumor injured his spinal cord. He has been in a wheelchair since he was 18 months old and is now in kindergarten. In November of 2011, Mona visited the school where Isaac would attend kindergarten and found that he would not be able to play on the school’s playground equipment. She met with the school principal who suggested she approach the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA). She went to a meeting, told them what she wanted to do, and asked for help. They agreed to support the project and Mona agreed to be the fundraiser. The Blue Slide Project was born.
Over the summer of 2012, Mona and her team of fundraisers held a variety of events to raise money to build a new playground at the Parkside Elementary School in Grants Pass, Oregon. They held a Bunco Night, Zumbathon, Concerts in the Park, a car wash, yard sales and more.
In July 2012, the construction of Phase 1 began. You can see the groundbreaking in this video from KDRV TV. In August 2012, Isaac was able to celebrate his 5th birthday by cutting the ribbon on the new playground.
The community really rallied around the project to make it become a reality. One example is a 64 year old man with Parkinson’s Disease who walked 46 miles from Grants Pass to Ashland, Oregon. He said he was “doing what Isaac can’t.” He ended his journey with a trip down a slide with Isaac. Mona said she believed this was possible “because a community believed that ALL children should have the freedom to play.” She has received e-mails from local residents thanking her for making the playground possible. Even adults with disabilities are now able to interact with their children at the playground where before they could only watch from the sidelines.
There is a second phase to the project which will resurface the remaining area of the playground. Anyone can purchase a tile for under $20 to help support the resurfacing. Mona hopes to work with the local parks department to help make other local parks accessible to all as well.
I asked Mona for her tips to others who want to build an accessible playground in their community and she told me to be prepared to do a lot of research and do not be too proud to ask for help. Ask the media to share the story of what you are doing. “Keep your eye to the end and enjoy the people you meet along the way.”
Watch Isaac use his blue slide here:
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