Physical Therapy and Social Work Grads on a Mission to Build Inclusive Playground in Illinois
Angie Wuebbels, a graduate of the Program in Physical Therapy and her sister, Beth Ricciardi, a graduate of the School of Social Work, are co-chairs of a committee working to build an inclusive, accessible playground in their hometown of Breese, Ill. The project, called Hannah's Playground, was a theoretical project for Wuebbels during her studies and became a reality when a professor told her that it was worth pursuing. Three years later, fundraising is more than two-thirds complete and the group hopes to break ground on the playground this year.
The Breese, Ill. community does not have an inclusive playground. This therefore means that children with disabilities have limited access to the vital activity of outdoor play. One such child was Hannah Berndsen, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair.
Her wheelchair was almost impossible to push around playground surfaces, preventing Hannah and her family from enjoying outdoor play in the park. Hannah was forced to watch her older sister play from a distance, unable to participate. Her sister often tried to include Hannah but it was a major challenge for her and her family.
When Hannah passed away in 2012, instead of wishing that she could “Rest in Peace,” her family chose to say that she will now “Run and Play.” Although Hannah and her family did not have many opportunities to enjoy outdoor play with Hannah, Wuebbels is on track to ensure that no other child or family with disabilities will have to miss out.
On Saturday, April 5, there will be a Totally Awesome 80's Party fundraiser with music by The Hair Syndicate. The event will be held at the Breese KC Hall with doors opening at 7 and music from 8 - midnight. Tickets are available at the door - $15/single or $25/couple - and include all you can eat fried chicken and cupcakes. A cash bar will be available and attendees are welcome to bring their own snacks. The night will also include a raffle, a Twister contest, a best dressed contest and more.
The inclusive playground surpasses ADA requirements of accessibility and will feature soft tile surfacing, ramps, transfer stations, adaptive swings and slides safe for children with cochlear implants. This project is partnered with Unlimited Play, a non-profit organization located in St. Peters, Mo. Unlimited Play specializes in planning and building fully accessible playgrounds that allow children and adults of all abilities the opportunity to play together.