JOLIET – On Tuesday, July 26, students, adult participants, and staff of United Cerebral Palsy-Center for Disability Services (UCP-CDS) gathered to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the upgraded accessible playground. Several local, county, and state officials joined in the celebration.
“It is fitting to showcase our newly upgraded accessible playground on this important anniversary,” said Mike Hennessy, Executive Director of UCP-CDS. “The goal of the ADA is to ensure equal accessibility and opportunities for all individuals with disabilities. What is more equalizing than allowing a child or an adult wheelchair user to experience the thrill of playing on a playground.”
The ADA did not begin in 1990 when it was signed into law. It began a long time ago when individuals with disabilities began to challenge societal barriers that excluded them from their communities, and when parents of children with disabilities began to fight against the exclusion and separation of their children in our public schools.
Over the years, the disabilities rights movement has brought injustices faced by individuals with disabilities more visible to the American public and our government officials.
“More than 41 thousand residents of Will County live with a disability,” said Pam Heavens, Community Access Advocate for UCP-CDS. “Public and private entities must continue to ensure their policies, procedures, and facilities reflect true
inclusion of disabled people. We have come a long way but there is still much work to be done.”
Hennessy acknowledged local, county, and state officials in the crowd including State Senator Eric Mattson, State Representative Natalie Manley, Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, County Board members Mica Freeman and Herb Brooks, Jr., and Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk.
“We appreciate the continued support of our legislators,” Hennessy said. “This helps us maintain our important services to our student, adult participants, and their families.”
Originally built and dedicated in October 2013, the fully accessible playground at UCP-CDS includes swings for those in wheelchairs to roll onto a platform that is attached to chains on a frame and experience the enjoyment of safely swinging to and fro. The playground also has wheelchair-accessible ramps to allow individuals to experience the grounds from different levels.
The accessible playground has many sensory stations to encourage people with autism to explore and engage their imaginations.
“We appreciate the hard work of our original accessible playground committee and generosity of the many contributors who made this project a reality,” Hennessy said.
For more information about UCP-CDS and its programs and services, visit our website: ucp-cds.org or call us at (815) 744-3500.