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Wanted: A Playground For All



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To the Editor:

Imagine a playground where not everyone has something to do. Kids with special needs don’t have enough to do. The special needs swing is too far from the other swings on the playground. Parents with multiple children need to be able to see all their children at once. Finally, I think we need more equipment for special needs kids so they have more to do.

First of all, there are not enough swings for special needs kids. The only swing for special needs kids at Dickinson Park is near the baby swings. This is fine if you’re a baby, but not all special needs kids are babies. For example, my brother has special needs, but he is 4 years old. I can’t swing next to him because I am 8 years old and do not fit the baby swings. I think I know how my brother feels, because I would want to swing with kids my age, too. I asked 360 people who live in Newtown if there should be another special needs swing and 92 percent said yes.

Second, a lot of parents who go to the park want to stay with or see all of their kids. If a parent has a child with special needs and an 8-year-old, like my mom does, she has to stay by the baby swings and not with her other kid. This means we can’t stay together. This is not fun for me because I can’t talk with my mom or make my brother laugh. I bet lots of siblings of kids with special needs feel the way I do, too. We love our siblings and want them to be happy.

It’s not just the swings. There isn’t enough special needs equipment at all. I spoke with the physical therapist and occupational therapist at my school. They said that we need equipment that is wheelchair accessible and lets all kids play together. I did some searching and found three great pieces of equipment that could be added to the park. One is a big musical circle that would be good for kids who like loud sounds and vibrations. Imagine typical needs kids and special needs kids all making music together. Another piece of equipment is a special needs swing for the zipline. Right now, only kids who can grab and hold on can use the zip line. If we had a special seat, then even kids who can’t hold on can use it. Imagine their smiles while using the zipline for the first time! The last piece is a swing that wheelchairs can go in. That way kids who use wheelchairs can also have fun on the swings.

I think we have a chance to make our town parks great for everyone. I asked 360 people who live in Newtown what they thought. Eighty-seven percent said there isn’t enough equipment for special needs kids.

Donations can be mailed to Newtown Lions Club, PO Box 218, Newtown CT 06470: playground equipment.


Leah Mangino

Third grade student at Middle Gate Elementary School

57 Cedar Hill Road, Newtown March 19, 2020

Comments are open. Be civil.

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