What Mary’s Magical Place Means to Me and Says to the World
By: April Meredith
August 2018 marks the grand opening month of Mary’s Magical Place, an all-inclusive playground located in Hendersonville. I cannot express just how excited I am for this project to come to fruition. Many Middle Tennesseans have been thinking of it as a playground for children with disabilities; but, it is that and so much more. In accordance with their vision, Mary’s Magical Place will provide recreation for kids with and without disabilities alike, as well as for parents and loved ones who have had to observe at a distance before. I come from a generation that has been told, “Our children are our future,” but with contradictory societal and environmental barriers which have forced unnecessary limits on adolescents with disabilities. Segregation has been the standard. The idea that those of us with disabilities are “special” has been engrained in our minds and still seems to be understood without being said. However, when a 5-year-old in a wheelchair can swing alongside her peer with no physical disability, or a dad with cerebral palsy can easily navigate his walker around the playground equipment on the smooth surface to keep up with his active son, then everyone starts viewing people with disabilities as a natural part of humanity. Adults raise their expectations of the children and the children formulate a belief in each other’s potential.
Mary’s Magical Place brings people together. This playground will not eliminate every societal roadblock, but it certainly elevates our standards for inclusiveness. Mary’s Magical Place gets us one huge step closer to a barrier-free community where people with disabilities are valued equally and participate fully. As a Middle Tennessee parent with disabilities, I look forward to visiting the playground and spending fun, quality time with my children while we bond with other families who also have members with varying abilities. May Sumner County serve as a prime example that inclusive environments build stronger communities. I challenge other counties, states, and countries to recognize Mary’s Magical Place as not only a haven for children and adults with disabilities, but a conduit towards an accessible world for all.
You may read more about Mary’s Magical Place here: https://marysmagicalplace.org/