New adaptive playground lets all kids be kids

Anyone who was at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Riverview Park Adaptive Playground witnessed a very special event.

Two separate classes, from two separate schools and with two different physical ability levels were able to come together and to enjoy being kids.

They were able to look past what they could or couldn't do and simply have fun. It was an eye-opening experience and one that cannot easily be forgotten.

There was one star that shined even a little bit brighter on that day, however.

North Augusta Elementary student Marquise McBride, who is wheelchair-bound, had the biggest smile of the day. He was able to be with his mom in a swaying booth, which brought forth a sparkling smile. Then, a few moments later, he was able to get on a swing and feel a sensation that many able-bodied kids may otherwise take for granted.

It's that type of experience that really shows how we, as people, can come together.

Pam Stickler, president and founder of the RECing Crew, noted that the playground offers a great opportunity for kids to gain acceptance.

"The regular children who are playing with the special-needs kids are able to see that they aren't that different," she said. "These regular children are going to grow and be around these kids, and they are going to be the adults that they grow up with. I've always longed for a playground for them to be able to do things like this," she said.

She also said there are more activities available for those with special needs. "We also have a baseball team that plays at the fields nearby, and the kids are going to be able to see that there are so many more things they can do and see that they're not limited."

The Golden Rule says that we should treat others the way one would like others to treat oneself. This is never more apparent than when it comes to those of us who are at different levels in physical or mental abilities.

Unfortunately, so much of what is wrong in the world is that many people spend too much time looking at what someone is or isn't on the outside, instead what they are on the inside, allowing them to see the good in their fellow man.

The numbers are staggering: 18.7 percent of the 303.9 million in the civilian non-institutionalized population had a disability, according to the 2010 Census. About 38.3 million people had a severe disability. There also were 12.3 million people aged 6 years or older who needed assistance with one or more activities of daily living.

Approximately 28.6 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 64 with severe disabilities were below the poverty line, compared to 17.9 percent of those without. In the Census study, it also was found that in more than a 24-month period, 49.9 percent of those with severe disabilities were unemployed the whole time.

Simply put, we need to unite as people and focus on what we can do to enhance one another's lives. This is especially true to those of us who may not be able to do for themselves. Children are born with tolerance. As we age, many of us tend to lose tolerance for those different than us.

As adults, we could all learn a lot from observing the natural tolerance shown by children and the bliss they have on the new North Augusta playground.