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On the Coast Magazine

Connecting Kids by Elizabeth Medlock

01/02/2015 12:25PM ● Published by Nancy Babin

Gallery: Connecting Kids [1 Image] Click any image to expand.

Expectant parents spend a great deal of time getting ready for their bundle of joy.  They read the latest parenting books, stock up on supplies in the nursery and have high hopes for their child’s future.   They dream of the moment when that first word is spoken, those first steps are taken, that first day off to school.  They anxiously await the arrival of their little angel and make their best effort to prepare for what lies ahead.
But nothing prepares you for a child with special needs.  
Our family started down the special needs path when we discovered early in 2011 that our second daughter Liliana was born with a rare brain disorder called Sturge Weber Syndrome.  Seizures overtook her body and forced our family to make the difficult decision for her to undergo brain surgery at the young age of three.  As a result of her disorder, she has weakness in both her right arm and leg, is at risk for strokes, struggles with a speech impairment and still fights the seizure battle daily.  Her fearless spirit is quite fitting for the challenges she works to overcome each day.  
In November 2011, we welcomed our third daughter, Logan Mariah.  My pregnancy was a typical, healthy pregnancy until I became very sick with a virus that attacked her body in the womb.  As a result, Logan was born with a myriad of health problems and miraculously overcame a 10% chance of survival.  We left the NICU six weeks later with the diagnosis that she would likely develop cerebral palsy as a result of her traumatic birth.  We were told to love her and enjoy her as a baby and not dwell on what challenges may be in her future.  Now a joyful three-year-old, she is dependent on her family and teachers for mobility, vision, and self-care skills.  Regardless of her challenging diagnosis, she has a determined and willing spirit.  

 

 As I walked through a playground with Logan and her two sisters one day, surrounded by the sound of children laughing and playing, I realized that there was not a single component for a child with a mobility impairment.  Although the park had a beautiful “poured in place” rubber surfacing, it did not showcase an inclusive design.    I began to heavily research playground designs, ADA compliance, and inclusion playgrounds.  I visited many of our local playgrounds and took note of the changes that needed to be made.  From this playground experience, the vision of Connecting Kids was birthed.
Connecting Kids, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that focuses on raising money for playground improvements that will allow for a more inclusive design and better accessibility.  Inclusive design not only allows children to access the play equipment, but allows them to engage in the activities once there.  Our plan is to work on one playground at a time until the majority of our local playgrounds meet the needs of children with mobility impairments, autism, sensory processing disorders, vision impairments, and other disabilities.
For more information about Connecting Kids, please visit www.connectingkids.net.  Working together, our community can make a positive impact in the lives of children with disabilities and show their peers what they can do, not what they can’t do. 

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