PlaygroundSPRINGFIELD – Maddie Heflin, a fifth grader at Wolf Ridge Elementary School in Bunker Hill, had a question: Why are so many playgrounds unusable by kids with handicaps?

She asked that question for a while and eventually asked it to State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

“She wanted to know why so much playground equipment can’t be used if a child has a wheelchair or other accessibility issues. Accessible equipment exists but we don’t see it in our playgrounds.” Manar said.

State lawmakers approved legislation in the closing days of their spring session directing the Illinois Department of Natural resources to prioritize park grants for accessible playground equipment. Manar sponsored the proposal in the Senate.

“If we can increase the accessibility our playgrounds we can promote the acceptance and inclusion of children with disabilities and eliminate any associated stigma,” Manar said.

Grants from DNR’s outdoor recreation program are already prioritized based on the useful life of facilities, safety needs and other factors. This proposal adds universally-accessible swings, ground-level play features, wheelchair-accessible tables and ramped equipment to that list of priorities.

The legislation, House Bill 3457, was approved with bipartisan support and now requires approval from the governor to become law.

Category: People of the 48th