A playground for everyone
For Renee Becerra and her family, Gabriel Park has been their neighborhood park for more than five years, but their favorite parks are a bit farther from home. “We usually travel across town to accessible playgrounds like Harper’s Playground, Gateway Discovery Park, and Mountain View Champions Park,” she says. “Those are favorite places for my kids. I love that they can use most or all of the playground equipment there.”
Renee’s sons, ages 3 and 7, are both autistic. Her older son, David, also has a rare type of epilepsy that affects his speech and motor skills, and he uses a wheelchair part of the time. “If he’s feeling good, he prefers to be up and running around at the playground,” Renee says. “On days he isn’t, he’ll stay in his wheelchair and we’ll play together.”
Gabriel Park, with a unique topography, breathtaking views, and open spaces to roam, is a special place that Renee loves to visit. The playground there is important to her and her sons, but they struggle to find activities that work for them on the small outdated play structure. She’s excited that Gabriel Park is the site of PP&R’s next inclusive playground. She is doubly thrilled that it will be a close-to-home destination site in Southwest Portland that is much like the ones she now takes her kids to in Northeast and North Portland.
“The apartment complex I live in has quite a few tenants with disabilities—adults and kids,” Renee says. “Bringing this to our neighbor-hood will be a huge improvement for so many people.”
Renee serves on the Project Advisory Committee for Gabriel Park’s new inclusive playground which is scheduled to be completed in late 2020. Along with fellow parents and children, speech and pediatric specialists, and people who use wheelchairs, she is working to help PP&R hear more input from those who would benefit most from spaces like these. The diverse voices and experiences will help shape a welcoming environment for all.
“My sons love slides and just running around and climbing,” she says. “They’re both going to be so excited to see the changes on the playground.”
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