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Parenting: A place for everyone to play

All-inclusive playground
Play area in Parc Sans Soucci
Posted at 7:38 AM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 14:20:17-04

"Imagine that you want to take your kids out and play and, for whatever reason they couldn't access the playground, they had to sit and watch all of the other play," Lacie Chappuis said. "Imagine what that would feel like as a parent?"

This is not something the Chappuis has to imagine, it is something she lives out every day with her daughter Elodie.

"She's no different than any other kid," Chappuis said. 'She wants to play, but her body is really tricky for her. She can't just walk up and access a playground like Dutch can. She needs special equipment and an ability to get her wheelchair up to the equipment that is on the playground."

When Elodie was born, Lacie and her husband made the difficult decision to leave Louisiana and make a life in California. It was a place where Elodie could get the care she needed.

Chappuis Family pushing for inclusive playground in downtown Lafayette

"She's non-verbal and in a wheelchair. We moved to L.A. to be in a big city with lots of services for her," Chappuis said.

But as time when on they both realized that what Elodie needed and what they needed was to be near family.

They packed up and moved back to Lafayette.

The Chappuis family found a home near Downtown where they could spend their days walking to parks and restaurants.

"We're close enough where we can walk down here, we spend most of our weekends down here walking around," Chappuis said. "There are restaurants, shops, and the Children's Museum for the kids. We really enjoy being downtown."

While they had everything at their fingertips there was missing, a place for Elodie to be a kid.

Chappuis Family pushing for inclusive playground in downtown Lafayette

"What we found here, as opposed to L.A. where there were a lot of accessible playgrounds, we haven't found that here," Chappuis said. "That would be great for us. As her parents we want to see her be able to play just like any other kids. That's just a part of growing up."

In Parc Sans Souci, next to the Splash Pad and stage is a 1500 square foot green space. It is bare now but will one day be home to an all-inclusive playground area.

"It's really something that doesn't exist in the area, and we know there is a need for it especially with all of the children's activities that are in the surrounding areas," Jamie Hebert, director of programming & engagement with Downtown Development Unlimited, said.

Hebert said that fundraising is a big part of the park's success. She said it will take some time and cost about $250,000 just for Phase One.

"We'll have a climbing structure, we'll also have an accessible wheelchair carousel, and a swing nest as well that's also good for adults, too."

The entire project from start to finish will cost about a million dollars. The groundbreaking, Hebert said, is completely contingent on fundraising.

No matter how long it takes, the Chappuis family said they are thankful to their community and everyone else willing to step up and help give their daughter and so many others the childhood they deserve.

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