A Westfield mother has a dream for a playground that's available to all.
Inspired by her two children with disabilities, she's been working on this project for the last year. Mandi Riel's entire life revolves around her two children, Reese and Lillith, both of whom have disabilities.
For the last year, Riel has been working tirelessly to fund an all-abled playground in Westfield. "We're really trying to raise awareness that there's actual equipment that needs to be brought in and added to the playgrounds, if not completely, exclusively built so that everything is included and everything is all in one," Riel said. Some of the equipment at one existing looks like it could be a lot of fun, but not for children of all abilities. Reese has Asperger's, depression, and ADHD. Lillith has hypotonic cerebral palsy.
While both have made huge strides since we saw them last summer, their mother said that they'd have more fun at an all-abled playground than at the ones that currently exist in Westfield.
"Making the slides closer to the ground, maybe lighter colors, so they don't conduct heat. The stairs are wider, lower-spaced, railings," Riel explained. When the city of Westfield asked the state for money to install a playground of this sort, the state denied it, according to Scott Hathaway, parks and recreation superintendent.
By phone, Hathaway told Western Mass News that he's currently working on an application for $20,000 to put the all-abled playground at Hampton Ponds.
Riel has raised nearly $400 to help with the cost, but it's not enough, yet. "If people just take the time to do a little bit of research, even looking into Jessica's Boundless Playground," Riel noted, referring to an all-abled playground in Belchertown. "It really would go a long way," Riel said. The application for parks and recreation is due to the state by the end of the week. Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.