Everyone at Play Commendation
I want to take a moment and tell you how completely grateful I am that your museum exists and the obvious care that has gone into designing your exhibits. Due to brain damage from birth called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), my son has severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy which has caused him to be disabled in every area except for hearing. Due to either frequent and severe illnesses his first few years of like, myself being pregnant and unable to lift him or having a newborn sister who couldn’t be out in public yet; we haven’t been able to take my Alex to the family friendly spots around Chicago. Finally, this last week all the stars finally aligned and we were able to have an “Adventure Week.” We spent all last week visiting [other local Chicago cultural institutions]. At each of these locations I was disappointed because even ‘accessible’ exhibits failed to take into consideration that a young child in a wheelchair is limited in how close they can get to buttons and touchable elements and that sometimes ‘looking’ isn’t enough. I’d noticed that about 10-15% of available exhibits were really something that he could enjoy. It was very disheartening.
Your museum was the last stop for the week and boy was it the grand finale! Upon first walking in I was concerned that there looked like a lot of physical exhibits near the entrance and after the disappointment of the week, actually almost left. Then I saw your water exhibit near the back. Alex loves to play in the water, but twice this week I’ve encountered ‘water play’ exhibits which were completely inaccessible for him. What caught my attention about your exhibit were push button activations that were low enough and slightly sticking out from the wall. Perfect for our needs. Suddenly, right there was the experience I’d been hoping for all week. My son got to play along side his peers. Something he rarely if ever gets to do.
Then it turns out that EACH exhibit and room has activities for him and not just a few but the majority! We were in heaven but then you guys added the cherry on top. It might seem like a little thing, but you have large padded benches in the bathrooms to use for diaper changing a child who is to big for the infant table. All week I’d been running out to our SUV and changing my son in the back cargo hold because that was the only option for us. What many people seem to not realize is that while this works, that it’s very uncomfortable and embarrassing to be changed in such a way. Sadly, it really has been the only option short of laying him down on a dirty bathroom floor, which isn’t a much better.
I hadn’t even left your parking lot before I was letting other families of children who have HIE know how impressed I was. If possible, I’d like to plan a large group meet-up for some of our local families. Do you ever help arrange such things?
Once again, I can’t thank you enough. It is obvious that a great deal of planning, consideration and consultation happened to make your facility possible.