Building Madurai's first disabled-friendly park for kids - My Take by A Chandrashekharan
In this week's My Take, a profile on a wonderful initiative in Madurai by a group of parents who have come together to open Madurai’s first disabled-friendly park. The writer, A Chandrashekharan is the managing director of the Madurai Group Living Foundation.
My second son is autistic, and as the parent of a special needs child, I always wished for an open, green space where I could take him without fearing that he would be stared at, or teased by others. Children with disabilities face a lot of stigma in parks and playgrounds. I am a member of an organisation of parents with special needs kids and we came together and formed a trust three years ago.
Need for a space space for kids with disabilities was felt
We are a group of about 200 parents, and we decided to look at long-term plans for our kids.
"The idea for a disabled-friendly park was being discussed for some time and it finally came about when the new municipal commissioner took charge and supported our proposal. We said that we wanted a common space for our children and the parents.
Other kids have so many common places where they can enjoy themselves like malls and theatres, but we can never let our children go alone. We also need a place where we can go and relax as parents. The commissioner agreed to allot the land and we developed it such that there is a park, an office, and an information centre.
"We spoke to a parent organisation in Bengaluru that had opened such a park and drew some of our ideas from them. We needed Rs 30 lakh, half of which the parents’ raised, and the rest the corporation gave"
Park has many accessible features for kids with disabilities
We have a small garden where kids can play throwball, a small sensory garden, with ramps and handrails everywhere. There are no steps. We also have wheelchair accessible swings, and family swings where parents can sit with their kids. We have invited all the special schools in Madurai to send 20-30 students everyday. Our plan is to invite all children so that it builds awareness and inclusion.