Civitan Smiles Park

IMG_0597.JPGThe second day building the Miracles To Milestones Playground, I was contacted by the West Monroe Civitan Club. They had started the process, and were about to release to the public their plans for an inclusive playground in West Monroe, LA. Talk about God’s timing. KC and I had talked about eventually trying to do this again in North Louisiana, but I had asked for a little bit of a break first. 🙂 It was bittersweet playing one day on the playground we had worked so hard to build , but I knew it was time to get back at it again. After all, Benjamin, Lennon, Isla, and Rush still need a place to play. Promoting and gaining attention in a community that isn’t familiar with our family is tough, but the Civitan Club is doing an awesome job on their own. I am hoping Benjamin’s sweet face can persuade a few. 🙂

The past few weeks, there have been so many reminders of why I do this. A few weeks ago, I took Rush and Benjamin for flu shots. While in the waiting room, a very sweet lady started a conversation. After a few minutes, the dreaded question came up. “What’s wrong with him?” (This reminded me of the time I was asked this question by a man in a hospital gown. Should have asked him the same question.). Usually, I respond with his name and diagnosis, fearful of offending someone, but today, I replied, “Nothing is wrong with him. His name is Benjamin and he has a rare genetic disorder, but he is very bright and happy.” I could obviously tell she felt horrible, which wasn’t my intention. My intention was to educate. She was an older person who didn’t grow up in a time where many people with disabilities worked, invented, created, had families, and were given a chance to succeed. She completely agreed with my answer and we continued to talk about a member of her family she had lost, a child with a disability. With advances in medicine, a disability will eventually affect everyone.

Another reminder was with the passing of Amendment One. I
am sure people would not have voted for an amendment that protected money to send them to a nursing home instead of staying in the comfort of their own home, but because of the lack of knowledge, it passed. Knowledge is power.

And lastly, people do not know Benjamin in our new area…yet. At this time, we are back to the sad looks, the hushing of children’s questions, and the lack of understanding of how happy and smart our little Benjamin truly is. I know it will take time, but I think my adjustment time lasts longer than Benjamin’s. I have always known how happy Benjamin is, but today it was solidified in a course I took on positive behaviors. It is statically shown that “Healthier People are only slightly happier than sick people.” Though I might not like the terminology, it says enough, and since Benjamin isn’t in any pain, I think that puts him as happier than others. 🙂

All of this shows how important it is for all playgrounds to be inclusive. I need Benjamin’s peers to vote correctly to not only take care if him, but to take care of us too. I need them to learn how awesome all kids are, and that just because you can see Benjamin’s disability, doesn’t make him any less awesome than any other kid. I need them to want to get to know him and other kids that may be different from them as well. Lots of needs, but I think this is a great start.

It was also stated today that “Happiness is greater following spending money on others,” so if only for selfish reasons, donating to this playground is beneficial to all. 🙂