17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Every Community Should Have A Place Like This
Clemyjontri Park is the Disneyland of all playgrounds. We are fortunate to be just a few miles down the road, and it is always the highlight of my children's day when we make the trip.
Designed for both able and disabled children, it has features that make it a fun experience for every kid. Some of my favorite discoveries so far:
1. Swings that allow a child with weak or paralyzed legs to "pump" with her arms.
2. Braille and sign language pictures accompanying written signs.
3. A mini track for kids to have races.
4. A carousel in the middle of the playground.
5. A huge map of the US with all the state capitals.
6. Designated quiet houses for kids to calm down if they are overwhelmed and on the verge of a meltdown.
7. Multi-leveled fire engine, bus and train structures for kids to have pretend time.
8. Fun paths designated for kids on trikes, and designated parking spots for their trikes as well.
9. A fun and safe climbing structure. When the kids reach the top, they have an array of slides to choose for their ride down.
10. Pianos and other sound-producing devices for kids to tinker around on, all attached to play structures.
It has been a great learning experience. Children, and especially my boys, seem to learn best when they are active and participating. I have been working on naming colors with 2yr old Asher. He wasn't really interested until we found a huge rainbow pole structure that he could climb while he learned. He also learned all of his ABCs by "jumping" on the alphabet floor design.
For almost 4-year old Noe, the park is a great equalizer. He can play just as hard physically as the other kids his age, although his language is far behind their own. He can also beat any other kid through the maze with his great sense of direction. The other day, I saw him watch some kids on the bars very intently. After they had left, he tried to copy what they were doing. For Noe, this was huge...he has always struggled with imitation and this has made some parts of his learning go slowly. It was a great feeling...a reconfirmation that he would be ok.
To us, this park has become a mecca of hope. Despite being located next to CIA headquarters, which is a little creepy, it alone has almost made our move from New York worth it.
I worried that the able-bodied kids would overrun the place and make it difficult for disabled kids to enjoy. I haven't seen that happen. The park's design helps accentuate every kid's strengths. I have also seen plenty of examples of parents explaining about "why the swing is different" or "why that little boy doesn't walk very well." I really think it is going to help the "typical" kids who patronize the park grow up to be more understanding and aware of people with differences.
Blessings to the wonderful woman, Mrs. Lebowitz, who donated the land for this park. The land is located close to the District, surrounded by McMansions, and pure gold from a real estate point of view. She could have sold it to a housing developer and been a millionaire over and over again. Instead, she donated the land and asked only that it be named after her children (their nicknames put together) and that the park be accessible to EVERY child.
Her quaint little white picket fenced house sits next to the park. Every time we pass it on the way to the park, I look to see if she is out. I HAVE to someday personally thank this woman for her amazing gift!