One Boy’s Joy shows why we need more handicap accessible play areas

Going to the park and flying high on the swings is one of the happiest experiences of many of our childhoods.

But more importantly, it is not a universal experience: for children with disabilities, it is common for many parts of a playground to be inaccessible. So when playgrounds meet your needs, it can be a wonderful occasion.

This is what happened to Will Calvert, nine, when he first tried a swing that could accommodate his wheelchair.

The swing, located at Will’s local park in Sunderland, features a removable ramp that allows wheelchair users to get in and enjoy the ride.

It was refurbished after his aunt Angela lobbied the council for a new wheelchair-friendly swing set and roundabout.

Will has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, one of a group of inherited genetic conditions that cause muscles to gradually weaken, leading to increasing levels of disability.

When another mother, Susanne Driffield, whose son Joe also has the condition, shared the video of Will’s joy on Twitter, people around the world responded with the hope that more playgrounds could be adapted in this way.

“Build inclusive environments! Everyone deserves to experience joy, dignity, and agency. And we all deserve to be on the receiving end of those smiles!” Critical Mass, a mobility company in Auckland, New Zealand responded on Twitter.

And SpecialBridge, an online dating and social network for people with disabilities, based in Atlanta, Georgia, he tweeted: “People with disabilities deserve to have opportunities to enjoy life and have fun. We deserve adaptable and inclusive options. And we deserve your respect. It is easy,”

One Twitter user simply wrote: “Every park SHOULD have one.”

Driffield, 44, regional development manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK, says seeing this content should inspire other councils to make the same changes.

She met Will through her work with the charity and also reveled in his delight in the swings.

“I was motivated to do this work by my son who is 12 years old as he has the same muscular atrophy as Will in the video,” she tells HuffPost UK.

“Will’s family are huge supporters of the charity and I got to know them very well and now they know my family as well.

“I think this should be standard in every playground so kids of all abilities can enjoy the park. The smile on Will’s face says it all!”

Driffield and his family live in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, which is a long drive from Sunderland, so he wants more of these accessible parks across the UK.

“It would be amazing to have something like this closer,” he adds. “My son and Will have Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which prevents them from walking and eventually using their arms and even breathing.

“That’s why something as simple as laughing on swings is so important.”

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