Madison, Wis (WMTV) -- Madison ranks number #1 in the nation for having 176 playgrounds. Officials said they want to make more of them accessible to all children.
After some delay, the Madison Parks Foundation and the city of Madison cut the ribbon on a fully accessible playground at
Elver Park. The park has been open to the community since September 2018.
The Ruiz family drove all the way from Deforest to use the playground at Elver Park because it’s fully accessible to those of all abilities.
"He is so happy right now. This is amazing. We came here, and we've already been able to do so much," she said about her son.
The Ruiz family said they have never experienced anything like it before.
"We can actually enter the playground, run down a ramp and he can go behind or in front of his sister. That has never happened before," Ruiz said.
Each element on the playground has a purpose. The contrasting colors help the visually impaired navigate the area. The stepping stones and alligators help children who aren't able to climb. Officials said the equipment was designed to give everyone an equal opportunity to play.
“I would pray it would be possible,” Ruiz said. “I think the more we can get out there and show everyone he likes to play too and he can play alongside with other kids, I think the more it will happen."
Officials said the barrier-free space is for more than just playing. Jason Glozier, Madison Disability Rights Specialist, said it allows all kids to grow, learn and develop together.
It's not just about play, but it's about the things children achieve through play and through an inclusive environment that really makes it stand apart,” Glozier said.
He explained it eliminates barriers that could stand in the way of a kid just being a kid.
"It helps the kids play next to each other and understand we're all humans, and we like to play. We should all be able to," Ruiz said.
Officials said they hope to build five more fully accessible playgrounds in the next five years. The Madison Parks Foundation said private funding will be required for the parks.
For more information on how you can support the initiative, contact the foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit madisonparksfoundation.org.