Every child deserves a playful life!  


 Every Ability Plays Project supports Inclusive Play with a goal of making sure every playground in Albuquerque has accessible equipment for children with disabilities. We hope to take EAPP to schools and other cities as well.

I got this grand idea from watching a lady on TV, Philanthropist Wallis Annenberg, who donated a lot of money to get an accessible tree house in California. I thought to myself "why can't we have something like that in Albuquerque?"  Ms. Annenberg was my inspiration wanting to do Every Ability Plays Project.
I think every child's play is very important, whether they are disabled or not. When my sister and I were little, my mom would take us to the park. Sometimes, my mom wouldn't feel like getting on the swing with me. I was that child watching her little sister swing, and wishing there was a special swing for her. I know there's that child wishing the same thing. Every Ability Plays Project will have different types of swings. We will have a swing for the child who can't sit up at all, swings for children who can't sit up by themselves, and about 2 wheelchair swings.
I want to put merry-go-rounds for wheelchairs, and high sand boxes. 
Even though Every Ability Plays Project is focusing on the play of children with disabilities, it doesn't mean this special playground will not have toys or equipment for the child who  can walk. We are going to put in the every day swing set, and the slide will have stairs. We believe children with all abilities should play together. We also want to serve the blind and deaf community as well.
If I can make this dream park for little children with disabilities happen, I will be able to leave a mark on this earth.
                 Why I love the outdoors

I have always loved the outdoors. My dad was a rancher and as we were growing up, he would tell us his stories about the outdoors and being in the open fields. In my teen years, my dad moved back for a few years. Every school break, my sister and I would go to see our dad. He would put me in the back of his truck to see the cows. That is why I love the outdoors.           

                          My Childhood:

I had a really playful childhood. We lived in an apartment complex. My dad lived in the same complex with his sister and her family. He had two of his cousins and their families living there, too.  I grew up with my cousins, and I was very lucky. We played together. We played ball and house. There was an older girl that used to take care of us. She used to take us to the little playground. I liked getting on a big red plate that we had to lay down on and that went around and around. That was fun. My aunt took her girls and me to the playground sometimes. My aunt used to get me on the swing with her, and it was fun.

 EducationIf we can teach children and adults of all abilities they can play together. There would be no more staring at that child who is in the wheelchair, or at that little girl who doesn’t like to be touched, who likes to be alone because she has Autism when the mother takes them out to the store or public places. There has been an ugly barrier when it comes to a child without a disability seeing a child with a disability. Why? There are not enough public places to serve children with disabilities and those without disabilities to play together.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if both sets of parents could talk to each other in one same place about their children’s future? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we heard a parent telling their child, “Go play with that child because she or he is not any different from you. They just play different?” Playing is the first communication for a child. This is how a child learns how to interact with people. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have a few parks where children with all abilities could start to interact with each other at a very early age?

 For this to happen, all parks must have special equipment for children with all abilities starting with wider sidewalks and special grounds so that a child in a wheelchair can get around all over the park.  Right now, not every playground has swings for children who can’t sit up by themselves or for children who can’t sit up at all. I have yet to see a slide that is 100% wheelchair accessible. Yes, there are slides that have ramps attached, but the parent has to take the wheelchair all the way around the park just to get this wheelchair to the bottom of the slide, and the child has to stay laying down waiting for the chair. That is difficult when she wants to get up right away and start playing again. For the child who has Autism, playing music is something wonderful to her. She also likes to be in a quiet place by herself. Every playground should have these kinds of special equipment. This is the only way we can hug and get close to these children by making play accessible to them.

There is something I strongly disagree about regarding the design of accessible playgrounds I have been to. I don’t like that they don’t have all of the equipment mixed together with the abled-children’s equipment. Instead, they have the equipment for the children with Autism clear across from the other equipment. What is that telling the children who don’t have disabilities? Isn’t that telling them they can’t play together with the other kids? Why can’t that child run around the equipment that the child with Autism is in?

The only time I would get to go down the slide was when my dad would go with us to a park. He would carry me up the stairs to let me go down, and my mom would be at the bottom waiting to catch me. Every Ability Plays Project is creating a slide which will be 100% stair and step free. Marcus Sanchez is our slide designer. We are still figuring out how the wheelchair will get to the bottom again when the child gets off to slide down. 

About the founder Tonya Rivera



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