A local mother and a grandmother are asking the Chillicothe City Council to provide playground equipment that can be easily accessed and used by individuals with physical limitations.
A local mother and a grandmother are asking the Chillicothe City Council to provide playground equipment that can be easily accessed and used by individuals with physical limitations. “We have several families in this town with different disabilities,” said Kimberly Kimbrough, paternal grandmother to a special needs boy. “Some kids can’t use their hands and fingers. Some can’t use their legs. Some use crutches to walk with, walkers, wheelchairs... they have different needs. The way the parks are set up now, there’s not access. There are no ramps.” Additionally, the wood chips used as ground cover at the playground cause wheelchairs to sink when entering the playground, she said. The inability to utilize local playgrounds compounds the day-to-day struggles that children already experience by having some kind of handicap, Kimbrough said. “It’s like they are singled out because they have a disability and they can’t participate in things that go on in Simpson Park,” she said. Kimbrough and the boy’s mother, Kelsie Cooper, attended Monday night’s City Council meeting, along with Kelsie’s son, Braydon Kimbrough, who uses a wheelchair. Braydon was born with a rare disorder that only about one in 3,000 babies are born with: Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (Amyoplasia), also known as AMC. AMC is a congenital disorder characterized by multiple contractures and deformities in the joints. Because of AMC, Braydon has little to no movement in the majority of his joints. AMC affects all four of Braydon’s limbs, as well as his hands, wrists, fingers, feet, ankles, knees and hips. Cooper takes her son to Cameron, 40 miles away, for him to visit a playground. Cameron has an easily accessible playground complete with a ramp that goes to the play equipment, and a path with a slide and other activities. “He can get up to all the equipment, roll his wheelchair all the way up the ramp, and to the slide,” she said. “I put him down and he’s able to go down the slide,” she said. At Cameron, Braydon can play tag with other kids who can run. “I had never seen him do that before and he’s six years old,” she said. She also noted that the city of Trenton is establishing a handicap-accessible playground. The social benefits of playground activities are stifled for all children when a child with physical limitations is unable to visit a playground, Cooper said. “If they are cut off from other children now and they are not able to learn to play together, to work beside each other...” Cooper said, “our next generation is going to be so judgmental. I cannot allow my son to be... ‘I’m not going to hire you for a job because you can’t walk or you can’t use your arms.’” She stated that she feels that the city is not meeting ADA requirements. “At this point, all of this stuff has been brought to my attorney’s attention,” Cooper stated. “I don’t want to go that route, but we need to get something and get these kids involved in the community. We can’t put it under the rug for much longer.” The council was receptive of the idea of establishing a handicap-accessible playground area with equipment. “Maybe, we can all get together and make this happen,” said Councilman-at-Large David Moore. “We know we need to do it.” There is $3,500 set aside in the 2017-18 city budget for playground equipment, of which some will be used to buy handicap-accessible equipment. That amount, however, is not enough to buy a large piece of equipment. City Administrator Ike Holland stated that the city has been trying to make a concerted effort to make all of the city’s playgrounds accessible to everyone. “The park board, Josh and myself have been looking at ideas for specialized play areas,” Holland stated Tuesday. “This effort will continue. As we do long-range planning, we will include handicap-accessible playground areas.” Cooper offered her assistance in helping the council understand some of the ADA rules, working with Parks Director Josh Norris to help identify appropriate playground equipment for children with varying abilities and of different ages. “We are willing to help in any way we can,” she said. “We need to figure out something we can do to help you guys, the city and the community, and the other children and the parents of children with disabilities who can’t take their children to a park because they have no access.” “It’s really hard for us to go to the park together and he’s in his wheelchair on the sidelines watching everyone play,” Cooper said. “That’s not a day at the park for him. I feel like if we are paying taxes for parks, that should be taxes for parks for everybody in the city.” She also noted that people in wheelchairs can’t watch their grandchildren play in the parks because the parks are not accessible enough.