A Berwyn-based advocacy group known as Mothers on a Mission is spearheading the effort to install a playground enhanced with equipment that children in wheelchairs or with developmental disabilities will be able to use.
Ricky Bedard, 20, is usually in high spirits. He was born with Down syndrome and is one of three siblings with special needs: his 17-year-old sister, Alexandra, is autistic and his 16-year-old sister, Tiffany, has Down syndrome, autism and several other medical issues. They are what motivated Cathy Bedard to start Mothers on a Mission.
"Our main purpose is to help parents get through the special education system. We provide them with resources, support," Bedard said.
The group's latest endeavor is to build an enhanced, ADA compliant playground in Berwyn.
"This is going to be an environment that all children will be able to go and play. It's gonna have a rubber surface so children in wheelchairs will be able to get into the playground. It's going to have special swings so our children who don't have the tone to be in a typical swing. It's gonna have some sensory panels which are going to be at a level where a child in a wheelchair can get up to them and play," Bedard said.
It will also have ramps and an aero-glider to accommodate children in wheelchairs and those who are standing. The project is a partnership with Kaboom!, a national non-profit organization that builds playgrounds in one day, the North Berwyn Park District, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, who is the corporate sponsor.
"This was an in-line rink that was not designed very well, so we took it out of service and were waiting for a future use for it and now that opportunity has come up," Joseph Vallez, executive director of North Berwyn Park District, said. "Blue Cross Blue Shield did step to the table when they heard about the Mothers on a Mission wanting to have a more enhanced ADA compliant playground, so Blue Cross Blue Shield added additional funding for this when they heard about it."
For Mothers on a Mission, the project is long overdue.
"This is too late for my children. I did experience taking my children to a playground and seeing that they didn't have access to all of the equipment and it did bother me," Bedard said. "You can't imagine the joy that we are feeling that this is actually going to happen in the city of Berwyn."
This will be the North Berwyn Park District's second playground with Kaboom! The first was sponsored by Disney, the parent company of ABC 7, earlier this summer.