Back in early 1998 while I was in the “building phase” of Hadley’s Park I had heard of an organization in Los Angeles that was planning on creating a fully inclusive playground and I thought, “Wow! Someone else with the same vision, a place for all children, someone who was doing the same thing that I was doing clear across the country, I would love to meet these people and learn about what they were planning on doing. So that is exactly what I did, I made a phone call introduced myself to one of their founders, Catherine, traded a few frequent flier miles, grabbed one of my board members and we were off to California to meet the founding crew of what today is known as “Shane’s Inspiration.”
Shane’s Inspiration was created by Catherine Curry-Williams and Scott Williams in memory of their son Shane Alexander who had passed away the year before of Spinal Muscular Atrophy only a few weeks after his birth. Had Shane lived, he would have spent his life in a wheelchair. Because of a physical disability, Shane would have been denied one of the most fundamental rights of childhood: the right to play independently with friends and family at neighborhood and school playgrounds. This realization encouraged the Williams and family friend Tiffany Harris to turn a tragedy into a vision that resulted in Shane’s Inspiration… a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities.
I was so glad to take the trip out there and meet the entire group of fine folks and listen to their story; we laughed, we cried, we shared our visions but most of all we bonded over a common cause. I cannot believe that was 13 years ago! Shane’s Inspiration is very close to my family’s heart and I will write much more about them over time. But right now I just wanted to introduce you to them and to their wonderful work!
Upon completion Shane’s Inspiration gave a gift to thousands of Los Angeles children through the creation of an environment where all children can play together at the highest level of their ability. With the support of visionary community leaders, Shane’s Inspiration created the first Universally Accessible Playground in the Western United States. Located in Griffith Park, “Shane’s Inspiration” provides two acres of fully accessible, sensory-rich and physically challenging equipment.
In June 2002 they started an inclusive play program called “Shane’s Club.” with a small group of committed families which has grown to almost 1,000 members today!
Run today by Tiffany Harris, I applaud this wonderful organization for all it does for all children! If you live in the Los Angeles area I invite you to go visit this wonderful playground or check out many more that they have developed. Should you want to get involved in helping them raise funds to build playgrounds, an exceptional woman named Marci Moran is head of their events, and I know she would be glad to have you stop by and say “hi!” I know somewhere Shane is smiling!