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Dani Inglis and Lily Bacon spin the rain wheels at Dunnegan Memorial Park. 

Holly Shuler said she hadn’t thought much about a local lack of playground equipment for kids with disabilities, until a parent of one of her patients brought it up.

“A few years ago, I had a parent mention they never go to Bolivar’s parks because, for one of their kids with a disability, there’s nothing to do,” she said. “Just that can keep a whole family out of the park.”

Shuler, a pediatric physical therapist who also volunteers with Bolivar AMBUCS, a nonprofit that works to bring recreation and mobility to local kids with special needs, said she saw a need. 

Shuler said the organization started working toward adding playground equipment for kids with disabilities at Bolivar’s Dunnegan Memorial Park. 

Using a grant from the Bolivar Area Community Foundation, it was able to buy bucket swings for kids who aren’t able to sit upright. 

Shuler said $1,000 in grant funds also approved by the foundation were used for a pair of rain wheels and drums recently installed at the park.

The audio toys are angled for children who are visually impaired and are mounted at wheelchair height, Shuler said. They match wheelchair swings recently installed by the City of Bolivar. 

“I asked them to make sure they installed the toys at a height kids in wheelchairs could reach them and to put them at the corner of the playground mat, so kids could roll up to them,” she said.

Shuler said the organization had actually also looked into wheelchair swings before the city moved on them.

“As the kids get bigger, it’s hard to lift a child that can’t help much,” she said. 

It’s good progress, Shuler said. 

“We thought, ‘What could we add that’s accessible to kids in wheelchairs?”’ she said. “I personally know kids who are visually impaired and in wheelchairs and the rest of the park doesn't really have anything along those lines. That’s how we landed on the drums and rain wheels.”

Shuler said the organization’s goal is to keep building. 

“We would like to have other things out there, too,” she said. “It makes it worth the trip for families who have kids with special needs.”

It’s important for families of those with disabilities to reach out to their city’s leaders to push for more opportunities. 

“We don’t always think about it from their perspective,” she said. “They’re coming to the parks and seeing it through a different set of eyes.”

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