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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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New playground at COYC caters to all children, including those with disabilities

New playground at COYC caters to all children, including those with disabilities

Fifty-four million American have a disability. Of that amount, five million are children.

The 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires playgrounds be designed and constructed in such a manner that the equipment is readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities because all children deserve a safe and fun environment to play.

According to one study on physical and developmental disabilities, 53% of children with disabilities spent less than two hours a week with their peers outside of class. Many times special needs kids are limited to accessibility, which can reduce the number of engagement activities.

Cut Off Youth Center has stepped up to the plate to erase that line in the sand with a new playground that makes it possible for every child including those who have special needs to come together and play.

The play area’s design creates an environment for interactive play for children of all abilities, giving children the resources to come together on “equal ground.”

Inclusive play will provide a multitude of benefits to local children. The play area will allow kids to see that people have similarities and differences and can help in building tolerance and positive communication as well as showing that each child has value.

D’Lynn Givens Boudreaux, the COYC director, said, "This is a playground for all children to enjoy and inclusive to children with disabilities.”

The new equipment replaces an old playground set that had deteriorated to the point COYC felt it was unsafe for children to play on.

Inclusive playground components address physical needs in addition to autism, sensory disorders, vision impairments and much more. D’Lynn is hopeful the new equipment will increase the number of children with disabilities visiting the center.

Boudreaux stated, “We have a Special Olympics swim team that uses our pool to practice for swim meets and their Special Olympics event. We host Pushing Paddles for a cure for Muscular Dystrophy and Cerebral Palsy Telethon. I am hoping, with the addition of this beautiful playground area, we will see them a lot more often. From my understanding, this is a first for our community.”

A special needs fund through the Lafourche Parish Government paid $100,000 for the equipment and matting.

"It was a conjoined effort between Thomas Arceneaux, our area’s recreation representative, and the parish council. Mr. Arceneaux asked us what our center needed. I told him a play area for all children in our area to enjoy at the Walking Trail. The walking trail property is owned by Lafourche Parish and maintained year-round by The Cut Off Youth Center in partnership with the parish. Mr. Arceneaux talked with Jerry Lafont, our Parish Councilman, about special needs funding. Mr. Lafont went to the council, and the council approved,” explained Boudreaux.

When asked when the playground area would open, D’Lynn said, “We expect the rubber matting this week. So, we are looking at possibly another week, if not two before final completion and for all safety measures to be in place.”

Boudreaux expressed her gratitude stating, “We would like to thank our Lafourche Parish Government, Mr. Jerry Lafont and Mr. Thomas Arceneaux for getting the funding and setting up this playground for the children in our community to enjoy. It is a wonderful thing when all children feel included, and no child should have to sit on the sidelines and watch others having fun and not be able to participate.”

For more information contact COYC at 985-632-7616 or visit COYC Facebook page for updates on the recreation area’s opening.