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Remember being a kid?

Play dough game

Take a moment to sit back and close your eyes and remember what it was like to be a kid. You attended school; you probably walked there. You would come home and have a snack, and then you would run out and play. These are some of the best times and memories of childhood.

Chances are you have a little movie clip running through your mind — hopping on your bike, riding to the local playground and waiting to see who else might show up. Your movie clip may include going to a friend’s house and playing in their home or backyard. You might play kick-the-can, softball and other games; some would be physical while others might include make-believe play. Maybe you were a princess awaiting your handsome prince, or a brave pirate looking for treasure.

Your imagination took you too many special places. Aside from going to school, this is what you did– play! Play was your childhood work. And although you probably were not aware, this is where you built the foundation for your social, physical and cognitive skills. These are skills you use in everyday life.

All children learn from developmental learning and recreational hands-on-play. Hadley’s Park Projects encompass both parallel and cooperative play in a free and supervised environment. The ideas and visions of Hadley’s Park Projects have resulted in the development of theme-play playgrounds.

Often, a playground is considered as strictly physical. When the physical play is achieved, a structure’s limited appeal can lead to boredom. How can we add to the restrictions of physical play? Theme-play offers a creative challenge to the child’s imagination and encourages play for extended periods of time. Theme-play provides endless journeys of discovery and excitement. Think of what Disney did in creating a land from the imagination.

When children are given an “equal” playing field, they learn from each other through physical and cognitive growth. A child with a disability gains so much by playing with a typical able-bodied peer. What people don’t stop to think about is how the reverse is also important – to give able-bodied children a chance to interact with children with disabilities. Through this cooperative play, children learn at an early age that a young person with a disability is a child first, then a child with a disability second. Children see that people with disabilities have feelings and like to play, just like them. They learn to feel comfortable with people who have disabilities. Children who play together at Hadley’s Park learn empathy while learning to accept people for who they are at an early age. Hadley’s Park helps young people learn not to discriminate or be fearful of the disabled. It becomes a win-win situation and a teachable moment for all the participants.

I invite you to help your community and bring a fully inclusive playground to your area, follow along and I will show you the how to’s, all you need to do is get up and “go.” I’m challenging you! Does your community have a playground such as this? If not come on, what are you waiting for?

About shelley

Shelley Kramm is the founder and editor of I'm Still Standing and The DC Ladies. Learn more about her and her inspirational family here and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and on

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  1. Hey Shelley,
    I’ve fell off the blogging grid for a month or so, and I just signed back in. I came by to say Hi! Wow! I love the new look of your blog. I love the header pictures too! You are so awesome! I miss the blogger challenge, but got so busy I couldn’t keep up. I’ll keep in touch!

    Good luck with your mission here to bring more accessible playgrounds to every community.

  2. Love this, Shelley! I am going to invite some friends over to read this and perhaps we CAN make a difference in our community!

  3. I actually have a playground in my community but, it needs to be updated. I think it has some years on it and isn’t very safe for children to actually play on it. Being the mom of a three year old, I definitely want an area where we can go out and play safely.

  4. I loved the comment about able bodied children playing with disabled children. As a retire occupational therapist I see the vale for everyone involved. Thanks so much!

  5. You hit on something I truly believe – that is empathy. I think that is what many of our kids are missing today & with empathy comes a host of positive results. With that being said I live in a community that has a few playgrounds that are within walking distance. However I will notify my followers about this post, and please stay in touch. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Great thoughts on the value of play, Shelley. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ll definitely be sharing this with some people in a position to make it happen–who really need to be reminded.

  7. What a wonderful vision. If children grow up like this there will be less room for intolerance and discrimination in the future.

  8. Thanks for sharing such a great article. With two small children at home, I’m often reminded what it was like being a kid.

  9. This is a great idea… and hopefully it inspires some action.

  10. Thanks Shelley! Love your suggestions about the integration. This will help children to accept and understand others in a big way.

  11. Thank you for a wonderful article. I love how you write from the heart and your passion and purpose come shining through. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, my friend {hugs}

  12. Definitely agree. All children, regardless of whether they are able bodied or disabled should have exposure to each other in order to broaden their perspectives. Doing so can potentially change the course of their lives.

  13. Great post! I will have to share this with some in my community! The idea is amazing and children really need a safe place to play with everyone!

  14. Wow, I so enjoyed your article today Shelly and your site is beautiful!! I think people sometimes underestimate kids and what they are capable of within relationships, you brought a fabulous perspective here, one that I will be proud to share. Kids are our future and they are more than capable of not only learning acceptance and tolerance but I am sure given a chance…will show us oldies the way too! Awesome!!

  15. Your first paragraph made me really close my eyes and remember playing as a child: I would completely throw myself into a game of tag or punchball and the hours would melt into minutes. Children are not naturally mean to one another; they are accepting and joyful! I love watching children play and even when they need some guidance to include others, mostly they are able to work it out within themselves.

  16. These are very good suggestions Shellie!

  17. Love how you outline the need for non-handicapped kids to play with others who aren’t all ‘just like them’. As a teen my mother ran a home for developmentally disabled adults and I quickly became very comfortable with ‘differences’ of all kinds. Later on in life I was married to a man in a wheelchair for several years and was unfazed by his disabilities. I think the inter-relation and connections between the ‘abled’ and the ‘disabled’ is something that can definitely be passed along to our children if we ourselves work against our own discomfort to be connected to others!