With a little help from adult friends, the following letter to Santa was written from the thoughts of Brooke and Hailee Boyd, 12-year-old Butte twins who have cystic fibrosis. Says their mom, Annie, “Most days Brooke and Hailee can keep up with the other kids but they have days where everything is just a little bit harder, like walking, running or just breathing. An inclusive playground will help the twins on the hard days.”
Thank you for making our last year’s wish come true. We asked for a playground in Butte without wood chips — wood chips aren’t really good for people with respiratory issues — and with more fun things for us to do with our friend who uses a wheelchair (she can’t wheel through the wood chips!) And now Butte will build just such a playground at Stodden Park. Our mom told us that you, Santa, didn’t have much to do with the playground plans, and that it’s part of a movement called “inclusion” in Butte and other communities, to build things to ensure not only basic access but also to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities as best we can, wherever we can. Inclusion is about using the disability community’s knowledge of technology to answer the question of “how” instead of “whether” a person with a disability can participate or do something. Still, mom says it’s all part of the magic of the season — the magic of giving — your magic — so thanks very much, Santa.
This year we’re asking you to use your magic to make the most of the new playground at Stodden Park. We’re asking that the new playground be filled with fun camps, play dates and parties. The parents of our friend who uses a wheelchair say this can happen if our Butte-Silver Bow Parks & Recreation staff had the opportunity to get training in adaptive recreation and inclusion. The parents say that not only will more people enjoy the park, more people with disabilities could volunteer and work at the park. They also say inclusion happens when people plan playdates and parties and ask questions like: Where could everyone have a good time? Where is there good accessible parking, bathrooms and all kinds of inclusive things to do? Well, the answer will be Stodden Park. So please, Santa, help people remember to plan to go there. Oh, could you also make sure as many people in our area of Montana see and get to experience the Stodden Park playground so they can think about it when their town or school are building a new playground? There will be really cool things that one has to see to believe, things that will help people imagine a different kind of playground. There will be poured-in-place rubberized surfacing allowing kids in wheelchairs to wheel throughout the playground. There will be swings that are accessible and a teeter totter that someone with a wheelchair can use.
Lastly, Santa, can you please be sure that these people are on your “nice” list: The staff of Butte-Silver Bow Parks & Recreation and all of the people helping to build more inclusive playgrounds. Please be sure to include people who helped with Montana House Bill 294, signed into law last May, which encourages inclusive playgrounds statewide. Lastly, Santa, thank you for giving Butte a place where parents of children with disabilities can relax, while their children play independently, just like other parents.
We love you, Santa — your friends, Brooke and Hailee Boyd