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Special Needs Playground Opens at Jamie Beth Slavin Park

Children and parents participate in the ribbon cutting with councilman Paul Krekorian.
Children and parents participate in the ribbon cutting with councilman Paul Krekorian.

Jamie Beth Slavin Park in North Hollywood welcomed its revamped playground Thursday that features equipment accessible to all children, including youngsters with special needs.

Councilman Paul Krekorian cut the ribbon to the playground also designed for special-needs parents who want to play with their kids.

“We all know that there has been challenges for Los Angeles, with budgets being cut,” said Krekorian. “As diverse and as big as the city of Los Angeles, we have wide ranges of socio-economic statuses in our communities, we have wide ranges of geography and demographics, but we also have wide ranges of physical abilities.”

The project was completed by nonprofit Shane's Inspiration thanks to a $2 million grant from the groups First 5 L.A. Tot Parks and Trails.

Shane’s Inspiration Board President Jerri Hemsworth further explained that the playground was specifically designed for all children and parents regardless if they have a disability.

“All of the playgrounds we have designed, have ramps and accessible equipment,” she said. “There are adult swings that can allow parents to swing with their child. There are also quiet zones where a child with autism can escape to if they need to be in a quiet area.”

Scott Williamson, co-founder of Shane’s Inspiration also said that the playground would possibly help “break down barriers, fear, bias and misconceptions of kids with disabilities.“

“It’s all about integration and socialization and bringing kids together,” Williamson said. “It's an incredible feeling the fact that we have a great organization that has opened its 43rd park.”

Shane's Inspiration started in the late 1990s, shortly after the passing of Williamson's infant son Shane, who had spinal muscular atrophy. Had he lived, Shane would have spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. 

Since then, the organization has built parks in not only the U.S., but also Ecuador, Canada, Mexico and there is currently talk of opening playgrounds in South America.

North Hollywood resident Nancy Cruz, a mother of an 8-year-old and a 1-year-old, was pleased with the new playground because it allows all age groups to play together safely.

“I like it because it lets my kids play without hurting themselves,” Cruz said as she played with her youngest child on a small bridge meant for toddlers to climb with their parents. “This is really safe and the little rails help my daughter climb up without hurting herself. This is a great improvement and I like this a lot for my children.”

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