chaparral park: scottsdale, arizona
The City of Scottsdale operates dozens of parks, public pools, and recreation facilities. Most of them comply with the ADA and are accessible to kids. But the ADA is old, and the law hasn’t necessarily caught up with the technology available to people with disabilities.
Erin Morgan, whose kids regularly use the playground at Scottsdale’s Chaparral and Indian School Parks, didn’t realize the playground wasn’t accessible for every child.
“I’ve honestly never thought about it until probably right now, but looking at it, I would say no,” she said.
Although the play structure displays an ADA sign, its sand base is difficult to navigate for children in wheelchairs or on crutches. Its steps are a barrier. And its slides aren’t necessarily wide enough for everyone.
Although the playgrounds have been updated since 1990, many disability advocates and activists wonder why they’re not fully compliant.
Nobody from the City of Scottsdale had an answer. But Zuppan, the park supervisor, blames the 2008 financial crisis.
“I think for the city Scottsdale, there is always the issue of money and the sustainability,” she said.
But as the city recovers from the recession, some positive changes are on the way.
Chaparral Park is due for a big upgrade starting in January 2018. One of the biggest pieces of this renovation is a fully accessible playground - the first of its kind in Scottsdale.
One of the biggest benefits of inclusive parks - other than allowing children with disabilities the same play opportunities as children without disabilities - is the lesson it teaches other children and families.
“It will help parents without disabled children be aware and more sensitive,” Zuppan said. “From a toddler up to a 100 year old, it is important to learn about the ADA in all walks of life.”
And parents whose children use the park regularly believe that a fully accessible playground will benefit their kids - even though they don’t have any disability.
“I would say, maybe even for my own children, to expose them, so they know that other kids with disabilities can play, and it’s okay,” said Morgan. “We’re all equal and the same.”
Ayana Horne, who also frequents the park with her husband and children, has a sister with autism. And she believes teaching tolerance and understanding will go a long way for helping society.
“It’s okay if you don’t look like that person. It’s okay if you don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes,” said Horne. “It’s fine to be yourself, look how you look, act how you act, and be able to still know that you can make friends.”
Millions of American children play at public playgrounds in their suburban parks. And although many of these playgrounds might technically be ADA accessible, they're not always open to every child. Our reporter Chelsea "Chip" Chiapuzio went to Scottsdale's Chaparral Park to find out about the park's new ADA upgrades and how they'll benefit ALL children.