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Our Why - Kristin Koester

I have been lucky enough to work with children since 1994. Most of those years have been with 3-5 year olds, with some school age children sprinkled in here and there. During those twenty-six years some of my youngest friends have had the biggest impact on my life and I mean life altering.

Three year old Amber was a sweet, happy little girl with Rett Syndrome that first sparked my mission to want to adapt and modify things so that she could do as much as possible just like her peers. Unfortunately, adaptations with duct tape, rolls of paper towels and yardsticks can only get a person so far.

Four year old Andrew was an amazing young man with cerebral palsy. He loved to play with his friends but when outside, opportunities were limited because his friends were climbing and running independently. Andrew’s friends loved to pull him around the playground in a wagon but Andrew wanted more; he deserved more. As adults, we would help him get in and out of play structures, but no kiddo wants an adult with him all the time.

That is why building an inclusive playground means so much to me. It’s important to me because all children and families should have the opportunity to enjoy time together on a playground. Play is a fundamental part of life and no person, young or old should have to miss out on playing with family and friends because of barriers such as mulch or steps or swing seating.

We can do better than duct tape and yardsticks; we have the ability to create a space that allows everyone to play and we can do this with your help. Make this happen not only for the Ambers and Andrews in the world but for each of us to have the opportunity to actively engage in the joy of playing with our people, ALL our people, the tall and the small, the old and the young. I am ALL IN-clusive, are you?

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