Friday, May 29, 2009

Why worry about accessibility?

Five million children living in the United States have disabilities. For most of these children, the thrill of the playground is as foreign as a trip to the moon. To date most local playgrounds exclude these children.

I as the Playground Princess am dedicated to the “true spirit of children”. The park and recreation industry vendors work to make playgrounds compliant; worrying too much about how many components it takes to meet minimal ADA guidelines. Contrary to popular belief, meeting these minimum guidelines does not make a playground fully inclusive! What is a transfer station anyhow? And just how many children with physical disabilities can get out of their wheelchairs, or put down their walkers or canes, and climb up a staircase to play on a particular piece of equipment? The answer is: not many. A full 10% of children with disabilities have a physical disability. Out of five million special needs children, that number represents a lot of kids!

Now assume that some of these children can climb their way up into a structure for play. There isn’t much more they can do besides crawl around the structure. Isn’t that degrading? This is not a solution if it continues to deny children with special needs equal access for play.

It is my belief that the spirit of play should always be for children of all abilities! Let’s take a moment to remember what it was like to be a kid. Why would anyone want just the minimal play opportunities for children? Ten years ago in creating Hadley’s Park, the first fully inclusive playground in Maryland and one of the first in the country I raised the bar. I believe that in doing so we set new standards, and I hope to continue and help bring fun to every child. And remember, the thrill of a playground is for all!

Follow along if you would like to bring an inclusive playground to your area, or pass this blog information onto someone who you know would want to create a playground like this in your area. We will deal with everything from starting a nonprofit organization through what it takes to raise the funds to do so. And we will also give tips about playgrounds across the country. If you have a story about an inclusive playground please feel share it with us
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Can you feel the Blog love?

This week i was part of the "blog-link-a-thon" that was hosted by now let's put up this big long blog love list and see how this goes...


2. Fairy Blog Mother

3. Crazy Adventures in Parenting

4. Engineer a Debt Free Life

5. Sweet ‘n’ Sassy Girls

6. Good Golly Miss Blondie

7. SavvySuzie

8. For The Love of Baby!


10. Blessings Abound

11. Coupons, Deals and More

12. Hairstyles For Girls


14. A latte in the morning

15. KiddiesCorner Deals

16. 3 Kids and Us Mom Blog

17. The Ohana Mama

18. Coupon Queens of Laurel Run

19. Today’s Journey


21. My Charmed Life



24. New Sue Review

25. Suzanne Calling

26. Just For Me…and You

27. Time Slides By

28. Babes and Kids

29. Declutter a Little Each Day

30. Grocery Savings for Real Families

31. Life Starring Ellie and Eve

32. So Cute Crafts

33. Brea’s Mommy

34. Are Muffins Just Ugly Cupcakes

35. It’s A Beauty Filled Life

36. The crazy suburban mom

37. Donna’s World

38. Momma’s Gone Over the Wall

39. Mommy’s Quiet Time

40. Joyce (Saving My Cents)

41. My Trendy Tykes

42. The Not-So-Blog

43. Confessions From HouseholdSix

44. SiPPyCuPSand FiNGerPriNTS



47. Giftfully Simple

48. Just For Fun

49. Digital Mommy

50. Me And Craig

51. Parenting Princesses


53. Inside My Head

54. Petit

55. My Love Lucy

56. FreckleBox personalized gift

57. Baby Lulu Dress

58. Blog 4 Mom

59. 3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

60. Jolly Mom

61. My Life My Journey

62. Maman And Gourmand


64. The POSHpreneur

65. A Blog of Goodies

66. Christy aka The Write Gal

67. LookWhatMomFound

68. Peanut Butter & Smelly’s Dad

69. Lucy

70. Angry Julie Monday

71. The Mogul Mom Blog

72. Angela

73. Deal-ectible Mommies

74. Christy’s Creations

75. Lisa


77. Wannabe Supermom

78. Thre Craft Momma

79. Internet Toddler

80. http://lifeisasandcastle.blogspot/

81. Kristen of La Dolce Vita

82. Cranberry Fries


84. The Mom Buzz


86. Frugal Mommy of 2 Girls

87. Mommy Cracked

88. EclecticBird

89. Mama Mentor

90. Moomettesgram’s Musings

91. Moomette’s Magnificents Reviews

92. Moomettesgram’s Favorite Recipes

93. Diaries of a Domestic Goddess

94. Go Graham Go!

95. NerdFamily Things

96. NerdFamily Blog

97. Making Money Keeping Money

98. NerdFamily Food

99. Flying Giggles & Lollipops



102. A Kindred Spirit’s Thoughts

103. Two Of A Kind, Working On A Full House

104. D-Lo’s Lounge

105. Free Sample Freak

106. What Mommies Need

107. Mom of 2 Boys, Wife of 1

108. icefairy’s Treasure Chest

109. Cheaper Than Therapy

110. Therapeutic Reviews & Giveaways

111. Lily Bean Designs

112. Dirty Diaper Laundry

113. Dance Momma

114. JamericanSpice

115. Mombalance

116. A Pocket Full Of Buttons

117. Ordinary and Awesome

118. Reviews and Giveaways

119. Subjective Beauty

120. Tales From A Shopaholic Mommy

121. Mommiemayhem

122. IE Mommy


124. Amber Woodward

125. Grammy Janet’s Place

126. Outnumbered 3 to 1

127. ShimmerMeBlue

128. Dev’s Favorite Giveaways

129. Joyful Money Saving

130. 1stopmom

131. A Modern Mama

132. PourSomeSugarOnMe

133. Fancast

134. Lollipop Baby

135. Lola & Ben

136. idoby2celebrants

137. Sue Jackson

138. Cackleberry Kids

139. Gifts By The Stars

140. Jemma

141. Handmade Kids

142. Ollie Rose

143. Babasfarmlife

144. Banquet Manager

145. Monkey’s Momma

146. This Mom Can Shop

147. EcoLabel Fundraising

148. Divine Chaos

149. baby kakes ink alphabet onesie

150. tee from recycle me


152. marla mandell bread (5/17)

153. ozone socks 5/15

154. Belly Bumps to Baby Hugs

155. Hip T

156. ThenComes Baby

157. Homemade Gourmet

158. Fresh Pure and Simple

159. MomDot Mom Blogs

160. MomDot Mom Reviews

161. Bloggers Give Charity

162. Organic Baby Resource

163. Potamus Prefers

164. The Army Wife

165. Through Hazel Eyes

166. Frugal Rhode Island Mama

167. Just Jingle

168. And Twins make 5!

169. Frugal Plus

170. Christie

171. What Happened To My House?

172. Miracles on Mama Street

173. Heck Of A Bunch

174. Blog Designs by Susan

175. mommy23monkeys

176. Hanna

177. Got Kids Need Valium

178. Womb At The INNSANE

179. Katie & Kimble Blog


181. The Frugalicious Mommy

182. Penny Pinching Diva

183. Another day. Another thought or two

184. Beauty4Moms


186. Little Miss Julia

187. Mrs Zeee

188. Cheryl

189. Frazzle Dazzle SuperMom

190. Florida Mealtime Savers

191. Inspiration Station

192. Mommy’s Kitchen

193. Saving with MamaNordy

194. Saving SAHM Sanity

195. A Little Piece Of Perfect

196. Nodin’s Nest

197. Lil Miss Eco

198. Laryn Strickland

199. HeatherMama

200. The Gerber Babies Blog

201. WhateverSuccess

202. Women Who Win


204. Happy Healthy Families

205. Sweeps4Bloggers

206. dramaqueensmum

207. The Mom Trap

208. Multitasking Mama

209. Mama Michies Musings

210. Little People Wealth

211. Belly Beyond

212. Kim Kihega

213. Mom Fuse

214. Juanita

215. Adopt a Do

216. On the Refriderator Door

217. Christine

218. Little Diva

219. My Household Junk

220. I’m Here….Really


222. mary


224. Lori Newman


226. Debb

227. Shawn Ann’s World

228. Peke Moe -NZ made baby sleep sacks

229. A Simple Kinda LIfe

230. Sweet Serendipity

231. Bouncing Off The Walls

232. Jane Loedding

233. Msbuildingupdabenjamins

234. Msbuildingupdabenjamins

235. Msbuildingupdabenjamins

236. Musings from Me

237. Veronnica

238. The Adventures of Miss V

239. Mudd Kids

240. Mom Most Traveled family travel

241. Relishing the Dirt

242. Good, True and Beautiful


244. The Last Blog on Earth

245. A Wrestling Addicted Mommy

246. Rae


248. Dore’s Diaries

249. Blog by Donna

250. Lisette

251. Pillaging With Buffie

252. Mom of Faith


254. flutterbyechronicles

255. shelley

256. Life In A House Of Blue

257. kristen

258. Alex the Fey Thriller Series

259. MamaCheaps!

260. Donalacasa

261. A Jewish Journey


263. BethinNC

264. Stuttering Shell

265. Don’t Blink

266. Life is Sweet

267. Lisa


269. m.e (cathie)

270. Run DMT

271. Princess Ratbag

272. Michelle G


274. Moody Mama Says

275. Laurie Ann

276. Cooking During Stolen Moments

277. A Simple Walk

278. Vanessa

279. middleagedmom

280. Ramblings Of A Wannabe Writer

281. Oh My Baby

282. Fordcast Sunny

283. Lisa Miller


285. Bibs & Cribs {very cute stuff}

286. My Lil’ Budget Book

287. Misadventures in Baby Raising

288. My Mommy Said

289. Milk & Honey Mommy

290. Milk and Honey Mommy

291. Amy O’Neal

292. Parenting Children

293. A Girl And Her Life

294. MarieLynn Boutique Blog

295. Born Fabulous Boutique Blog

296. The Pitter Patter Boutique

297. Stephanie Deese

298. Brea’s Baby Boutique Blog

299. - Heather Manning

300. Kids Activities Blog

301. Two Little Whales Cloth Diapers & More

302. 3 boys & a dog

303. Karen ~Georgia Angel


305. Shannon Blogs Here

306. A Virtuous Woman

307. Secrets of a Southern Kitchen

308. Dreamer

309. Lollipop Book Club

310. Mommie Daze Virtual Baby Shower

311. Heck Of A Bunch

312. MomSaves4U

313. Barely Domestic Mama


315. Professional Family Manager

316. Kathleen

317. Coaching The Family

318. Frugal Creativity

319. Easy Being Green

320. Dandelion Bubbles

321. Shelly aka The Attic Girl

322. Foxtoybox-Discovery Toys


324. Colleen - Mommy Always Wins

325. Playground for Parents

326. World of Discovery


329. A Little Bit Nutty

330. Mahayla’s Mommy

331. Mommy Goggles

332. The Shopping Mama

333. If I Could Escape . . .

Can you feel the Blog love?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Remember being a kid?

Take a moment to sit back and close your eyes and remember what it was like to be a kid. You attended school; you probably walked there. You would come home and have a snack, and then you would run out and play. These are some of the best times and memories of childhood.

Chances are you have a little movie clip running through your mind -- hopping on your bike, riding to the local playground and waiting to see who else might show up. Your movie clip may include going to a friend’s house and playing in their home or backyard. You might play kick-the-can, softball and other games; some would be physical while others might include make-believe play. Maybe you were a princess awaiting your handsome prince, or a brave pirate looking for treasure.

Your imagination took you too many special places. Aside from going to school, this is what you did-- play! Play was your childhood work. And although you probably were not aware, this is where you built the foundation for your social, physical and cognitive skills. These are skills you use in everyday life.

All children learn from developmental learning and recreational hands-on-play. Hadley’s Park Projects encompass both parallel and cooperative play in a free and supervised environment. The ideas and visions of Hadley’s Park Projects have resulted in the development of theme-play playgrounds.

Often, a playground is considered as strictly physical. When the physical play is mastered, a structure’s limited appeal can lead to boredom. How can we add to the restrictions of physical play? Theme-play offers a creative challenge to the child’s imagination and encourages play for extended periods of time. Theme-play provides endless journeys of discovery and excitement.

When children are given an “equal” playing field, they learn from each other through physical and cognitive growth. A child with a disability gains so much by playing with a typical able-bodied peer. What people don’t stop to think about is how the reverse is also important – to give able-bodied children a chance to interact with children with disabilities. Through this cooperative play, children learn at an early age that a young person with a disability is a child first, then a child with a disability second. Children see that people with disabilities have feelings and like to play, just like them. They learn to feel comfortable with people who have disabilities. Children who play together at Hadley’s Park learn empathy while learning to accept people for who they are at an early age. Hadley’s Park helps young people learn not to discriminate or be fearful of the disabled. It becomes a win-win situation and a teachable moment for all the participants.

I invite you to help your community and bring a fully inclusive playground to your area, follow along and I will show you the how to’s, all you need to do is get up and “go.” I’m challenging you! Does your community have a playground such as this? If not come on, what are you waiting for?
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Some kids dream about flying while other just kids dream of playing at the park

Some say “necessity is the mother of all inventions,” well that became evident to me one spring day in early 1996 when I brought my then 4 year old and 7 year old daughters to play at a local park. We were very excited to finally get out of the house from the winter doldrums and get some fresh air at the playground. My older daughter was thrilled to have a place to run around and I was just thrilled to get outside after winter.

When we got to the playground it was the usual ritual of letting my older daughter out of the car and having her bolt like lightening to the playground area, and for me, not so fast. I had to lift the wheelchair out of the back of the station wagon and then put my 4 year old daughter into it. When that 5 minute ordeal was over, we were off but almost immediately we were stopped by a timber barricade which seemed to be placed there to keep in mulch but very obviously was a problem for us. So, as usual supermom that I am, picked up both the wheelchair and my daughter over the timbers and then thought we were off. But again, not so easy to push a wheelchair over mulch, think of trying to drive over sand; it’s not so easy, is it?

We then caught up with my older daughter who was running from each piece of equipment to the next. When I finally told her to “hold up.” She exclaimed she wanted us to “come up” on the equipment. Come up? Now how exactly was that supposed to happen? Oh, I know the wheelchair was supposed to sprout wings. Well, that is what it would have taken to get her up on the equipment. And let’s say that actually could have happened, then what? Sit up there and watch from the tower while her sister ran around and around. This was no fun!

So my younger daughter and I went over to a seating area where I sat and we both watched my older daughter run around. At one point my older daughter came over to us a little frustrated but then realized when she came over to us that my younger daughter had a tear dripping down her face. That was it! That was the moment I went from a stay at home mom to a mom on a mission! Why was there not anything my children could do together? Why was there not anything I could do with my younger daughter while my older daughter played? This was going to change, it had to!

I went home and started drawing (coming from a design background, drawing was second nature to me) and visualizing what a perfect playground would look like. When my husband came home I told him of the adventures of our day and how I was now out to change the world. I had a dream; a goal- “to build a unique park where all children could play together with or without disabilities.” A park where through playing, the concepts would help all children socially, and cognitively, as well as physically. Equally as important, a place for children with disabilities to play with their own siblings and peers.

The ideas and visions of this playground resulted in the development of a theme-play park. Often a playground is considered strictly physical. Although, when the physical play is mastered, the appeal of the playground can lead to boredom. Theme-play offers a challenge to the child’s imagination and encourages children to play for extended periods of time.

My dream playground encompassed a Transportation Area, Pirate Ship, Frontier Village, Castle, Dinosaurs, and Main Street themes. In the design, accessibility was ensured through the implementation of the ADA requirements, CPSC and ASTM guidelines; those are playground rules.

By combining all of these elements in the design and equipment, my dream would create the best playground for all children to play!
Some kids dream about flying while other just kids dream of playing at the parkSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, May 10, 2009

About the Playground Princess:

Confessions of the Playground Princess is a how to and help blog. After creating and developing the first fully inclusive playground in the state of Maryland and helping countless communities around the country do the same, I thought I would take the opportunity and expand my horizons with a “how to” blog for what I will call “building a dream one playground at a time.” I blog about everything it will take to make this dream come true. The Park and Recreation Associations, playground manufactures, raising funds from private and public partnerships. I am a Washingtonian and live in the DC metro area with my husband and 2 wonderful daughters who inspired me to dream and create the first playground.

The Day Job: In addition to being the Playground Princess, and SAHM Shelley’s family owns Center Pet Pharmacy where she has been known to work from the “behind scenes.”

Hire Shelley:
As an expert and social entrepreneur, in the playground industry Shelley’s work has led to several speaking engagements and therefore available for guest speaking to your group on such topics as:
· Taking Lemons and Making Lemonade
· Building a Dream- Her Journey of Creating Hadley’s Park, Inc.
· Creative and effective ways to Raise Funds

Praises of the Princesses:
· The Adelphian-1998 Cover story
· University of Maryland Alumni Magazine-Fall 1999
· Landscape Architecture and Specified News Magazine-March 2000
· Today’s Playground Magazine-March 2001
· Washingtonian Magazine- Washingtonian of the Year 2005
· Exceptional Parent Magazine- Maxwell J. Schiffer Award 2005
· American Society of Landscape Architect's, Maryland Chapter, Presidents Award, December, 1999
· Montgomery County Parks Foundation, Inc., Honor Award Hadley's Park, January 2000
· WETA- Hometown Heroes, 1999
· JFGH- S. Robert Cohen Award 2003
· Featured on NBC’s “The TODAY Show” June 2004

The other side of a Princess: I write a personal blog to give some insight into the lives of a special needs family. About our triumphs and fears and what we have gone through together in the past 21 years. I am a writer, social entrepreneur, special needs advocate, point-and-shoot photographer, web-surfer, gardener, cook, and book reader. I created my first website in 1995 as part of the creation of Hadley’s Park. Now I blog and am currently writing a book.

Need a guest speaker? Want to talk playgrounds and how you can bring an inclusive playground to your community. Drop me a line.

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