I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
I talk often about the importance of an inclusive community. Here is the story of Logan and his family working to bring an all accessible playground to St Francis. To keep up to date on the project, I would suggest liking the St. Francis All Abilities Playground Facebook page.
I had the pleasure of meeting Logan’s mother, Jocelyn, last year at Disability Advocacy Day in Madison. I had the honor meeting Logan last summer during the Cudahy St Francis Little Baseball Association season as Logan participated in the Challenger Division. I am always willing to assist a family looking to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities, probably even more so when it is in our local community.
In speaking with Jocelyn last week, you could feel the passion she has for this project. I felt it important that Jocelyn tell the story and where she is with the project today.
I am a mother of a shaken baby survivor. When Logan was a couple months old, his biological father shook, dropped, and caused physical harm to him. Logan spent over a month and a half at Children’s Hospital. They gave us a very bleak forecast of what to expect because he had sustained extreme brain damage, broken ribs, broken legs, retinal detachment, and other injuries.
Logan was involved in the Birth-to-3 program and is currently enrolled in the St. Francis school district. Last year around this time, we met with a neuropsychologist in an effort to test Logan. She performed a neuropsychological exam for us which has been a huge help in determining goals on his IEPs, home life, and what are reachable expectations for Logan in the future. Logan’s results came back that he was at a 5-year-old level with not much expectation to advance greater than 8 years of age. Logan is currently 12.
Logan is a very happy and loving boy! He loves Toy Story, CARS, watching COPS and playing sports. He has a brother, Sawyer, who is “mainstream” and a loving father, Brian, who adopted him 2 years ago. Logan loves garbage trucks, police and fire department apparatus and construction vehicles. Depending on the day, Logan wants to be a garbage man, a police man, a semi-truck driver, fireman, a vet – but always ends with “I want to be a working guy!”
I have experienced many things having both a mainstream child and a special needs child. There isn’t a program that I cannot put Sawyer in. I do not have to call ahead of time, beg/plead with teachers or administration to allow him in remedial programs or classes with children who are younger than he is. These are all things I have had to do for Logan at one point or another during our adventure called life.
I currently am working with my community of St. Francis to advocate for special needs children/adults. I am trying to hold an event every month to help the special needs community experience some of the same experiences that mainstream children can do without a blink of an eye. In January, we held our 1st event – a “Snowball Dance”. It was a wonderful time! We had community members and friends bake treats for us, Pizza Hut donated pizzas for dinner and KC’s Music Machine donated their DJ services. We had 12 children attend and everyone had a blast!
Our next event is March 2nd where Marcus Cinemas South Shore Theatre is holding a modified showing of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” This showing is for disabled children and adults to experience a movie with their families! The lights will be raised and the sound lowered so everyone can have a positive experience! The Joe Setum American Family Insurance agency is donating the tickets for everyone and the South Shore Cinema is having modified prices for popcorn and sodas! As of this writing, we have more than 13 families who have RSVP’d (more than55 people)!
Last June, I had an idea to have a modified playground built for Logan and his friends. I brought this up to the city who thought it was a great idea. After moving between committees, it looks like this will happen! There is not an all abilities playground within Milwaukee County. An all accessible playground is just that: accessible to mainstream children, disabled children, disabled parents who may not get to take their children to parks because they are not ADA accessible, grandparents or wounded veterans who want to take their children or grandchildren to a park. And children like Logan – the children who will legally be adults, but an eternal child mentally. They will have a place to play and be welcomed also! Logan has numerous friends who are in wheelchairs and there aren’t any wheelchair swings in Milwaukee County to my knowledge. This all abilities playground will have wheelchair swings, a resting place for kids who may have autism or Asperger’s and need a place to collect their thoughts or have quiet time, musical instruments for the children who love music and learn that way. There will also be Braille and sign language out for anyone who may be deaf or blind so they can enjoy the park also! This park will be fully fundraised and the 501C3 status should be secured the 1st week of March. I am hoping to have a Memorandum of Understanding drafted by the city so we can start fundraising for our project! This project will be 100% donation funded and built by the community! There will not be an increase of tax dollars to fund this project!
I just truly want disabled children and adults to be able to have a place in our community! I want them to have a place to go and have fun, not be judged by any of their idiosyncrasies, and learn at the same time! I am trying to help our kids experience things that they may not normally get to experience (whether it be a park, going to a dance or even a movie.) I am glad we live in an age where we can bring our kids places and not have to keep them hidden away like in the olden days. These are my dreams that I will continue to pursue on behalf of Logan and his friends!!