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!


  • How awesome. Yes. every community should have a place like that, absolutely. How did you find it?
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 1/08/2007 04:51:00 PM  

  • There's a similar playground here in Maryland just off of 270 called Hadley's playground, and it has a similiar history. I love that it's for kids of all abilities.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/08/2007 05:13:00 PM  

  • Jen, what an amazing find. In all the years I lived in Reston/Oakton I never heard of it - I've got to find it the next time we're in town!

    And you should totally find the woman who donated the land and tell her how you feel about it - it would make her whole day to hear how it has inspired you and your family.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/08/2007 07:13:00 PM  

  • Wiz,

    We saw some newspaper articles about it when it opened last October. One of my son's therapists, who also has an autistic child, also recommended it.


    I hadn't heard of Hadley's playground. I'll have to check it out!


    We will have to go next time you are in town. It is probably only 15-20 min from your parent's house. You never heard of it before because it is brand new!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 1/08/2007 07:49:00 PM  

  • I'm pretty demanding in my park critique,s but that sounds great and my boy would love it! (we don't have the right label for his difference, but he's got something)

    so, who knows of one similar in the CA bay area?
    posted by Anonymous cchrissyy at 1/08/2007 07:56:00 PM  

  • Wow... that is an amazing gift. How inspiring. You'll have to let us know if you ever get a chance to talk to her.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 1/08/2007 09:21:00 PM  

  • Near L.A in Griffith Park there is a wonderful playground called Shanes Inspiration. Here's the website-http://www.shanesinspiration.org
    posted by Blogger trimama at 1/08/2007 10:18:00 PM  

  • Jen,
    You should print a copy of this post and mail it to her. I'm sure she would really appreciate hearing this.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/09/2007 10:43:00 AM  

  • What an awesome place! So great that it inspires learning for everyone.
    Kudos to Mrs. Lebowitz - we need more people like her in the world. I agree that you should give her a copy of this post.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 1/09/2007 01:30:00 PM  

  • What an amazing gift. I wish we had something like it close to here. I will have to check out the one that Tri Mama suggested.

    ANd from what you described, I think Liberty Park in SLC is similar. That is my favorite park in UT. We try to make it there when we visit family.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/09/2007 07:11:00 PM  

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