A well-constructed playground is much more than a place for kids to play—it is a place to develop skills and physical fitness as well as an area to socialize and make new friends. I recently became aware of an organization that is filling the needs of normal, developing children as well as those with disabilities: Shane’s Inspiration. To garner firsthand information regarding Shane’s Inspiration, I spoke with co-founder and CEO of the organization Tiffany Harris. She not only described the current status of the organization but also noted that their 15th Annual Gala “Carnivále of Play” will be held on March 5 at the Globe Theatre, Universal Studios Hollywood and tickets are currently available.
Tiffany informed me that Shane’s Inspiration is an international nonprofit that was co-founded by Scott Williams, Executive Producer of the hit CBS series “NCIS”. Scott and his wife Catherine-Curry-Williams founded the organization in memory of their son Shane, who passed away in infancy from spinal muscular atrophy. Realizing that their son would have spent his life in a wheelchair with a disability that would have prevented him from playing on a playground with other children, the Williams decided to create the first fully inclusive playground in the western United States as a tribute to Shane.
Since its founding, Shane’s Inspiration has grown into a global movement with more than 60 inclusive playgrounds in the US, as well as in Russia, Ecuador, Mexico, Israel and Canada. Inasmuch as the organization was founded in the LA area, the majority of the playgrounds are located in Los Angeles. In 2000, Scott and his wife cut the ribbon on “Shane’s Inspiration Playground” in LA’s Griffith Park, marking the first of a series of projects that would benefit Los Angeles as well as the rest of the globe. A list of the currently open Shane’s Inspiration playgrounds is available at this link.
Designed to be challenging and fun for typically developing children, as well as children with disabilities, the playgrounds feature accessible zip lines, high back swings, sensory water and sound walls for children with sight impairment and sensory processing disorders, activities designed to improve balance and muscle tone for children with Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome, as well as early literacy components woven throughout the design. Shane’s Inspiration provides landscape architectural design and project development services for each playground. Their education and community outreach programs, which work to eliminate bias against children with disabilities, have directly served more than 35,000 children in over 150 schools, and have been requested in over 50 nations throughout the world.
For the past 14 years, Scott has co-hosted Shane’s Inspiration Annual Gala, the organization’s largest fundraiser attended by celebrities, VIPs, self-advocates and many others supporters. This year’s 15th annual event is taking place on Saturday, March 5th at Universal Studios, where nearly 400 guests will enjoy the Carnivále of Play theme. For additional information, click on this link.