Hey guys, we're here with Courtney and markeesha. And we have a topic that I know that kids all kids love to play. Let's just say that, Oh, I didn't say hi, Courtney.
Hey, that's okay. I'm here at all kids. Do you want to play? Yeah, do you want to play?
And we were talking behind the scenes, because we're always talking behind the scenes about just quickly, when I was teaching, how I just didn't notice how playgrounds and like ADA is just the minimum. And how when my students in wheelchairs, yeah, they couldn't get down the ramp, which is Ada, but they couldn't play with the big ship that my kids like to play on my own my own kids, because there was wood chips, so they could get down to the swings, or whatever, but they couldn't access the swings or the play. Ground. What am I tried the playground?
Yeah, the structure where they left Summit? Yeah, get over to the actual theme. So I call that gaps in planning that somebody who planned it doesn't actually use an adaptive aid or have somebody who uses a wheelchair or a walker and think because they would know that wood chips don't work. So
this was a wheelchair will they're supposed to just go down? Yeah, get there and just supposed to look at the swings and look at the stuff. That's not fun.
Yeah. Yeah. So like you said, you noticed it when you started teaching kids that needed adaptive aids, and then you're like, wait a minute, how do they get over here. And my husband has heard me rant about this for far too many years. But I will say, the law says you have to have a accessible spot ahead, you know, a handicapped spot. And so they have that. So they have accessible parking, and I have my permit, and I roll up and we parked there. And I told him, that's where the accessibility stops, Hannah ramps up, she goes up the ramp to the sidewalk, maybe she can get to a picnic table. And that is the extent of most of her Park experiences because they don't have a ramp, they don't have the, you know, specialized turf, that they can roll over this rubber. And so it's really, really frustrating. Because, again, I've tell people, my tack sellers felt that and they build these things, and then to not have your child included, is so frustrating. But I am so proud of my city where I live, because they've made a commitment that no new playgrounds will be built that aren't fully accessible. So they have the specialized turf, they have, you know, the swings that Anna can sit on, you call them like a potato, where they can twirl. I call it adaptive teeter totter kind of where they have like the little bucket seat. So I can lean back against it and spin and bounce. And she loves that roll up and play like the musical thing. She likes to hit that. So our newest one here, my town has it. And so to have the town, have that commitment to say now that we know that we should have been doing better. That's our commitment. If they get remodeled, or they build a new one, they're going to be fully accessible. So that's great. The schools is a place where right away, I realized why do they not have a place for my daughter to play, right? And so I've told this story before in different platforms. But when I say locked, okay, so if Hannah is in her wheelchair, and they lock her brakes, she's locked. She can't undo her own brakes currently, and back then either. So they would roll her out. And then when I say she's locked in a wheelchair, that's when I mean her wheelchair wheels are locked. And she was just watching all the kids
play. And I broke my heart.
I was like, Well, what is Hannah doing at recess? Why would she want to come out here and watch everyone else play? And when I say that, like it's not like the teachers or the aides were intentionally being mean. It's just no one had kind of thought like, how can we bring Hannah into the play? Or how can we make this work for her and so we started with like, toys and bubbles and things that were portable and then they would kind of set that up and then naturally attracted kids kind of attracted kids to come Come to Hannah, and play with her. But her kindergarten year, I started to grow my little advocacy wings and all the baby wings. I was a rookie mistakes could have done things differently. But I tried it out. And I was like, I want something that she can actually go to and I want a swing Hannah love to swing, I felt like it would be an easy win, like to install a whole new playground set. Okay, that can be pricey. I still think I'm advocating for that. But, like, let's start with like, a swing. Right. And at first, I was told that the other kids could get hurt on the adaptive swing. So they weren't gonna put in the adaptive swing. Not did not land well with me, right? Um, I quite honestly, I was like, and they are their students can get hurt on the monkey bars, are we removing the monkey bars are we removing the slide like, and so they saw real quick that that wasn't going to work for me. So they ended up putting in the, those Daikon calling it like a mushy, it's the rubber stuff that you can write on them. So they made it from the sidewalk, they made an entrance. And then they put the rubberized stuff down, created a swing for her and any other student who might need it. Like, let's say they can't, they can't sit in the swing without having the back support, they could use the swing, and it had a harness that came down. And so she got her swing. But when she moved over to first grade, they said, don't even worry about it. Mrs. Burnett, we've already started, you know, cuz that that time that kindergarten play structure was over here. And then like, no other kids was over here like pre K and kindergarten play together. And then the main playground, like don't worry, Miss brunette. Over the summer, we're getting that swing set up for Hannah, like she's gonna have her swing over on the first grade side. And that made me really happy. And it's sad at the same time, because I was like, so no other kid ever Yes, there was other kids that wanted to play, they didn't get to play. And so there is rules in place, things you can do. And then there's things that you can help, you know, provide the change. So one of my clients that hired me to help like with some school issues, accessible bus, that sort of thing. She said, I've done some research, and the school didn't even make their playground to the ADEA law, the law that says if your school was built at this time, this is the minimum you have to have an order to do to meet the law. And I said, Okay, so we went back and we got the school district to, to come up to code, but they would not budge on going beyond the ADEA. So even though they could do more, they were willing to be like, well, this is what the law says we have to do for this structure.
And I was I that annoys me so much. Because it's like, that's the minimum. And you know, have you ever heard this sentence at the IEP? Well, that those minutes are just the minimum we can, we will do more. And it's just like minimum. Yeah, that's another example where they could do more. But they're only made to do the minimum, because I don't want to throw that in there. And we're talking about playgrounds, but like, that's what they're legally promising you. That's what the ADA minimum is the minimum they have to do and some people only want to do the minimum. That's why laws are important to try to kind of shift what that is. But your school board is somewhere else that we can go and I don't know about you, probably before 2018 I didn't really go to school boards. I didn't really understand my local elections. I voted but not like, wow, I could change my town or my city by voting for city council. And this person is, you know, what did they feel about accessible playgrounds, like how do they feel about this? I could change the code or standard in my city by electing people who want to see change. So I went down with my school board, but I will say have a little plan. So have a little plan. So I recruited and I recruited hard but I didn't get I didn't get a lot of volunteers that want to go down to the school board, not on an item to show up and plop something in their lap. And you know who went with me? A high school student, high school student who Who started volunteering and getting to know my daughter's class and the different students in there? And realize, like, why aren't they going to prom? Like, what? What about this? Why are they out here for that? And so she started, she's in a student council. So she started planning things and getting more involved with those classrooms. And so I recruited her and she showed up and she was in like, a power suit. She like outshine me. Like, I was like, oh, okay, she's a student. She can't come to class she came to deliver. And her her speech, you know, you have like, three minutes usually, as like your max. So you gotta like, come in with a plan, you know. So we came in, and I was talking about how we're revamping and remodeling a bunch of schools, we're building new schools, because our town is growing. And I said, I just want to point out, we have an opportunity to make these playgrounds inclusive, we could partner with different business owners, or PTO PTA to bridge the cost difference, but we have an opportunity to change how we build our schools and how we plan out our schools because we're building new ones like today, like right now. So I was talking about that and why they're important and what message it sends. And then another mom showed up, so it was me and other mom and this high school student. And they listened to both of us moms. But when the high school student got up, she made one of the I call them a football player, I'm judging, I don't know, if he's a football player, he looked like he used to play football. Hey, he used to play football. And I saw him wiping away tears. And she was talking about how inclusion at the high school had changed her life and how she was just on a mission to make sure the kids were more included in the school and the things that she thought we could do as a school district. And that really, really hit home. And they I feel like they listened to us. But when I'm like a youth came and they were speaking it really they were like, contacted her after the school board meeting was like, tell us more about what you're doing. How is that working? How did you get it going? Because is that one high school? We have two, we're working on a third. So we're going quite a bit. So they wanted to say how can we replicate this at the other high schools. And then that student went on to plan a unified prom and invite all the students and had accessibility in high school, you know, there's not necessarily a playground, but there's common areas, there's prom, there's picnic tables, so we were talking about how there's not a lot of accessible seating for them to kind of join in at a table or to come sit by their peers.
And so there's there's power in those different places that families can go and you know, I'm not sure what order this podcast will go with our other one we just recorded but you were talking about the courage and saying being okay with being the first or being the one to kind of say, I'm going to ask for this change. And even though that's been uncomfortable, I haven't really enjoyed the role, but I just feel like God keeps putting me to be first for that I opened the door like prior to open, I make like this little bit of a gap and then other parents can come in and it keeps widening and widening until the doors open, right? And we have that. So don't settle if your kid needs access to the playground or even if they don't like I tell people if you see that your school's playground isn't inclusive. Right? You don't have to have a child with a disability to see that that's not right. And that's not fair. And that's not equitable. How can we change it? So we're not waiting for someone to say I need this rubber rise ramp? I need this to get here. What if the parents at the school said hey, I was demarcation recording these podcasts and they are talking about inclusive playgrounds and I wanted to let you guys know we do not have an inclusive playground at our school and I want I want to change that because I want every student at our school to say I belong here. I want to make friends. So yeah, I kind of went on like a soapbox moment there but it's like you know we were talking about you know this from school so you can speak to it. But a lot of times if your child is in a kind of a self contained type classroom or away from gen ed students a good chunk of the day whether that's for therapies, interventions, we have the reasons why that happens. But playground lunchtime, and electives are high inclusion times, I'll just say common inclusion times, right? How can my daughter go make friends and have people invited to come play with her? If she can't even get to where they're playing?
Exactly? Exactly. How do we expect those things, there's not even opportunity to, there's not even an opportunity to because it's not as it's not accessible. Right. But you said, Hannah loves to swing, and there's tons of kids that love to swing, it's just something that a lot of kids generally love to do. And we call it the potato swing to swing. So the thing about the potato swing is that all kids could use it. So if there's a swing around, and all the kids can use it,
there's a sensory need to spare in our twist, they can use it, if there may be you know, there's some kids that have trouble balancing and building up their core you when they're little, that is something universal design, the thing I love about that term is, when we do universal learning, universal design, you're helping any student that could use visual support, right, or you're helping any student that would rather use a ramp, maybe for whatever reason, then the stairs, it's easy or to do it. At the time that you're building it, it's much harder to go back and say how can we make this inclusive because you did the building structure and the blueprint, not inclusive. So I always say, talk to your city and your town, your school district, your school board, because they you voted them in and, and they're there to serve the community, and they need community input to know what things the community wants. So we have to be willing to show up and say, we're a community member, my son or daughter is a community member. And this is something that we're not serving this portion of the community very well how can we be more inclusive, and give them the opportunity to learn, and it's not going to happen, this kind of work, like a lot of our work, right? It takes time. But you will see the shift in the change in your community, when you keep kind of showing up, talking about it, dropping them an email, sending them all those things, it lets them know, like, I haven't forgotten, I came to the school board meeting, and I talked to you about this, I see this new school going up, I'm excited for you to share with me how you're making that more inclusive, and hold them accountable to that. And just know, I guess I want parents to walk away from this, you know, undergoes short and sweet podcasts here of saying, you can ask for your playground to be modified, you can start with your local principal and your PTA and PTO but if you're getting kind of shut down, you're not you're not being heard, then go to the school board meeting, show up talk about it. And if you have to do it over a couple of board meetings, because you can only talk for a couple minutes at a time, then set up like we're going to talk about what is inclusion, the next time you're going to come you're going to come with a couple of ideas of how they can do that. And so you're educating and advocating and over a few times, if you keep showing up, you will get change. And you will get I call them allies. And what happened after a meaningless couple moms were there for rezoning of us different schools. They weren't really there for our issue. But they're like, I had no idea. Right? Tell me more. What can I do to get our school on board. That's where this podcast and what we want to do is including every parent and having people learn about different issues that might not affect them that might be affecting one of their friends or loved ones, and community member and say, now that I know that I want to be bringing that up. When I'm in circles with people who could listen to that issue. I want to make sure I'm talking about my friend Markeisha was telling me about how her students couldn't get to the playground and I don't want any of our students not being able to get to the playground. What can we do with this year's budget to move towards a more inclusive playground? If we're already going to replace the woodchips? Could we do this type of thing for a little bit more money and then we at least have the pad and then we can next year's bye just comes out, can we get a ramp at it? You know, I mean, if you can start chipping away at making your school more inclusive by saying what can we do this year to move us closer to that goal.
And I started before I had a child with a disability, advocating for that, because I was like, it's not fair. My students can only get down the ramp, but they can't play because of the woodchips and created a PowerPoint because the teacher creates PowerPoints. And we went to the mayor's and I didn't know what are they like? So what do you want? And I was like, Well, I don't know exactly what I want. But this is what we need to happen. I want you know, more inclusive play playgrounds. And here's my PowerPoint. And actually, I have that PowerPoint, and I'm going to link it to this podcast so they can maybe share it with their it's still I might I might upgrade it. Because you know, that's how I am. But this is it, the basis of it, and maybe they can share it with their cities. Yeah, that's
a great idea. Because it will we always want you guys to leave with actionable like thoughts, and then something that you could actually like prank relook at, that's going to just make it easier for you to go do something that might be out of your comfort zone, you're like, I'm going to take Markeisha as PowerPoint, Courtney's three tips for starting a grassroots movement. And we're gonna go over here, and we're going to do that. So we'll leave you guys for all the parks swings for all the parks. We'll leave you guys with that in the show notes. And of course, if you have any questions, you can always reach out to us on our different platforms, and say, Hey, this is what I was thinking, what are some ideas to get this off the ground and that's what we'd love to talk about. So that won't be an inconvenience at all. We were happy to help you guys.
So we will be back with you on the next episode. These episodes.
Yeah, yes. Other episodes. Yeah. Follow us so you get to download them. And of course you can always leave a review of your favorite episode or what things you want to hear us talk about. We're always listening and want to bring you guys just the best information we can and laughs along the way. So
thanks for growing with us. Have a good day, or