October 16, 2014 by kristanlloyd
I wasn’t unable to attend the City of Wildomar Parks Master Plan Workshop on Tuesday the 14th but had to send in my two cents. Not knowing what to expect out of the workshop I wrote a letter for John to read on my behalf. (John is my better half, the man who keeps me honest and who has taught me quite a lot about patience while I have done everything to try his.)
Later that night under the bright light in interrogation mode: John reported back that it really was workshop style where staff explained the plan and approx. 12 community members in attendance were then tasked to put stickers on what they thought were the most important of the plan. Very similar to the Visioning Workshop that occurred a few years ago. Because there wasn’t a time for public comment he wasn’t able to read the letter but did hand it to the Assistant City Manager, Dan York. John said he seemed to be interested in the report.
Years ago when there was a Parks Subcommittee we wanted to make sure to provide something for everyone at our parks. We worked with the Skater Girls who worked tirelessly getting donations and coming to meetings to make their needs known. We were able to build a small portable skate park that was housed and used in the lower parking lot of Cornerstone Church. Unfortunately, the ramps had to be disassembled after a year plus use due to lack of a permanent location.
I still believe we need to include not only a skate/bike areas but create outdoor natural spaces. Here’s my letter with links and references attached. I hope you agree and will also let city officials and staff know that we need to include all inclusive spaces at our current and all future parks.
To Whom It May Concern:
As you know John and I have volunteered towards the creation of a master park plan since 2001 when our parks were previously closed.
Years ago when we thought we were going to be receiving the parkland behind Ronald Reagan, I was working as an Aide with a wonderful class of young children, all with their own special abilities. I was very involved and dedicated to serving their needs and recognized the importance in creating an all-inclusive space that would benefit everyone, including our special citizens. We performed a fair amount of research at that time and the location of the new park with its blue stream and areas of limited use makes it conducive for keeping some of its natural element for people with sensory processing disorders.
Children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorders find challenges with socialization, communication, play and imagination. Sensory play playgrounds attract children and encourage exploration and discovery, and provide a “just-right” experience for those seeking sensory stimulation.
Most often they spend most of their time isolated and indoors staring at a computer or tv screen. The following documentation points to the benefits of outdoor play and natural habitat. One study in particular cited statistics that some children are so disengaged that they have never touched a rock, listened to the wind blow through the trees or even gazed at the stars.
We have an opportunity to make the most out of this parkland and still keep an element of its natural habitat, walking trails and special areas for sensory gardens that create opportunities for everyone to engage with nature. It’s more than play equipment and ball fields.
In regards to the Master Park Plan and financing: There were grants and funding available when I looked years ago and believe we can find some now. I am also attaching a link to The Sensory Garden at Freedom Trail Park which was the Rotary Club of Westfield, Indiana’s signature local service project.
Wildomar has proven that through the use of partnerships throughout the community, nonprofits and businesses, we can accomplish great things. I look forward to working with City staff and community members to create the best possible atmosphere of inclusion for all, at all of our future parks.
Benefits of Play
The goal of this sensory garden playground is to create an environment where all children can feel comfortable and develop themselves by challenging their bodies and minds. This area will include amenities that will encourage different types of physical activity than standard playgrounds.
Research indicates that by creating a challenging and social environment for children with disabilities, it will provide a lasting effect for them into adulthood.
The lack of social inclusion deeply increases the chance of a child with a disability falling victim to bullying, according to UCLA clinical instructor of psychiatry Elizabeth Laugeson,”Lack of basic social skills may lead to rejection, isolation or bullying from their peers. And sadly, that isolation can carry into their adult life..”  A 2002 study confirmed the long-term impact, citing that “up to 90% of adults with disabilities who report losing their jobs report doing so due to a lack of social skills.”  Other more immediate damaging outcomes for children and teens with disabilities who experience bullying include an increased chance of low self-esteem, depression, lower academic achievement, and attempted suicide. Sadly, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, the trend of victimizing children with disabilities is on the rise.
- Play is an important vehicle for social relationships & modeling behavior, which impacts long-term success…initiation, negotiation, and boundaries…learning how to be in the tribe
- Self-esteem is strengthened, as kids master tasks and the physical environment
- A foundation for academic learning is developed (literacy through storytelling, science through physical exploration or environment, math/physics through manipulation of objects and environment)
- Motor skills, sensory processing, muscle development, and cause-and-effect learning are promoted
- Play stimulates the brain to produce chemicals that can reduce brain damage
- Receptive and verbal communication skills are built
 Teaching Autistic Teens To Make Friends”; Science Daily, 2009
 Elksnin & Elksnin, “Adolescents with Disabilities: The Need for Occupational Social Skills Training”; Exceptionality; Volume 9, No. 1 & 2; Pages 91-105.
Special Sensory Playgrounds
Play for All
Playground Equipment and Autism- The Sensory Rich Playground for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sensory Garden Information – The Sensory Garden at Freedom Trail Park is the Rotary Club of Westfield’s signature local service project. The Rotary Sensory Garden, combined with the all-inclusive playground equipment, is the first garden and park in Indiana specifically geared for persons with autism.
Why Include Nature in the Sensory Diet of a Child with Autism?
7-1-2011 – THE EFFECT OF OUTDOOR ENVIRONMENT ON ATTENTION AND SELF-REGULATION BEHAVIORS ON A CHILD WITH AUTISM
Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids with Autism – Guest Blog Post