Cooper has a rare, genetic disorder involving motor and developmental delays and his friend, Isaiah has cerebral palsy.
They both have great teams at Ridge Road Elementary School in North Haven but they have trouble on the outdated playground.
“From the very beginning, gross motor wise, he was not able to climb on everything and was very overwhelmed by the volume of kids,” explained Cooper’s mom, Christina Montanari.
“The actual structure of the playground prohibits Isaiah from accessing the equipment,” added Erin Lamb, Isaiah’s mother, who notes this is an issue many towns are facing. “Laws have changed and schools have changed – we have more kids with disabilities in our home districts which is where they should be with their peers but we have to catch-up our buildings and playgrounds.”
So, these parents are leading an effort to build a new playground with new features.
“Some equipment that wheelchairs can actually go onto, ADA compliant swings,” said Lamb of the plans.
“We’re working on the accessibility component but also the inclusion piece so kids have a place to play in and around their peers,” said Montanari who helped organize an upcoming fundraising concert featuring Grammy nominated artist Brady Rymer. “He had a CD released in 2011 called ‘Love Me For Who I Am’ that celebrates kids off all abilities.”
Kim Olenoski, a teacher at the school and a parent, believes the new structures benefits will be far reaching.
“It will be a great opportunity for the little kids – not just Ridge Road kids – but for the community and children all throughout North Haven who will have access to this sort of playground,” said Olenoski.
The moms envision a day when all kids are playing on the grounds in their own way, at their own speed, yet side by side.
“To have somebody be able to come and play and feel they have easy access to a playground is going to be big for a lot of people,” said Montanari.
The concert is taking place June 3rd on the North Haven Town Green.