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I am advocating for the
modification of the playground at Chestnut Branch Park in Mantua Township, NJ. Chestnut Branch Park has over 100 acres of
land, drawing many crowds and families with weekly events, camps, and
sports games during the warmer weather months, (“Chestnut Branch Park,” 2013). All
of the schools in this district also have between 13 percent and 14 percent of
students in their special education programs, out of total student bodies ranging
from 300-1,000 plus (New Jersey
Department of Education, 2012). Of course the special education programs
involve students with a range of disabilities but physical disabilities are
represented among this student population. All students in these surrounding
townships deserve and must have the ability to play, socialize, and grow up in all
of their local parks along side their peers.
During play is when children develop their social skills, which help with developing interpersonal relationships, expressing emotions appropriately, and developing communication skills (Avcioglu, 2012). The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) specifically states evidence has found that all children benefit from socializing with children of opposite abilities.Considering playgrounds are a focal destination for children and families to spend time and socialize, it is imperative that it be an environment where all children can thrive and enjoy themselves.
Additionally, many medical costs can accumulate for families with a child with physical disabilities. It may be difficult to afford many advanced toys to help promote the child’s development and for any family with children, free public facilities and activities are very valuable resources. However, for families with children with disabilities this may not be an option if the public resources, such as parks, do not accommodate children with physical disabilities.
Furthermore, it has been found that young children are capable of amicably breaking down power structures created and prompted by cultural influences. A recommendation in schools is a curriculum in early childhood education focusing on the learning of various cultures and an awareness of cultural co-existence, especially through partaking in diverse experiences (Souto-Manning & Hanson-Mitchell, 2010). This can be prompted through normal play, outside of the demands of a school between children with and without disabilities. The capacity for co-existence of multiculturalism at a public playground, in addition to the accessibility of free public parks for families and the socialization that naturally occurs on playgrounds, all contribute to appropriate advocacy of a modified playground at public parks.
The focal goal of my advocacy plan is to have adjustments made to Chestnut Branch Park in Mantua Township so children with physical disabilities can appropriately utilize the facility. Since it is such a widely used playground in the area, it would be much more useful and beneficial for all families, not just families with children who are able bodied, to incorporate equipment, such as a full body support swing, into the playground.
Avcioglu, H. (2012). The effectiveness of the instructional programs based on self-managementstrategies in acquisition of social skills by the children with intellectual disabilities.Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 12, 345- 351.
Chesnut Branch Park. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.mantuatownship.com/
Mental Health Systems Act, 42 U.S.C. §9401 (1988). Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, §2, 104 Stat. 328 (1991). Retrieved from: http://www.ada.gov/2010_regs.htm
M. & Hanson Mitchell, C. (2010). The role of action research in fosteringculturally-responsive practices in a
preschool classroom. Early Childhood
EducationJournal, 37, 269–277. doi: 10.1007/s10643-009-0345-9
State of New Jersey Department of Education. (2012). Special Education Data. Trenton, NJ.Retrieved from: http://www.state.nj.us/education/specialed/data/2012.htm