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Working to make Kansas City more inclusive for people with disabilities

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Carlos Moreno
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KCUR 89.3
This spinning toy at the playground in Martin Luther King Jr. Square Park at 1900 Swope Parkway is wheelchair accessible, just one of the many ways the park is inclusive.

An intentional effort by local organizations is underway to make Kansas City's public spaces more available to all.

For kids, one of the places where disabilities can present challenges is at playgrounds. But at many of Kansas City's parks, that is changing.

Deborah Wiebrecht, executive director of Variety Children's Charity, says one of the organization's missions is to make Kansas City the most inclusive city in the world for children with disabilities.

"A part of what Variety does is work with community partners to remove some of those barriers so that kids with disabilities can play alongside able-bodied kids," she explains.

Kansas City now has 11 inclusive playgrounds and ordinances to increase accessibility and participation. One requires that any future playgrounds be all-inclusive. Another has been written so that all new construction with family restrooms will have to include a universal changing station that accommodates both children and adults.

Olivia Bloomfield is an area fourth-grader who has muscular dystrophy. She joined Up To Date with her mother, Sara, to talk about why these accommodations are so important to her.

When playgrounds are not designed to be inclusive, it makes it hard for Olivia in her power wheelchair to participate. Some of these barriers include a lack of ramps, or mulch on the ground instead of a hard surface.

"Everybody deserves a chance to play and have fun," she said. "And, seeing the change happening in Kansas City and beyond, it means so much to me that everyone is getting a chance to hang out, play, have fun with their friends, and just go about their life and have fun."

  • Deborah Wiebrecht, executive director and chief inclusion officer for Variety Children's Charity
  • Sara and Olivia Bloomfield, mother and daughter seeking inclusion in the Kansas City community
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As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. Follow me on Twitter @ptsbrian or email me at brian@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz
As Up To Date’s associate producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
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