7’s HERO: Eagle Mom Pushes for Wheelchair Accessible Playground

Katie Stewart wants her daughter to be able to play with her friends on the school playground, but at the moment the playground is not wheelchair accessible.

EAGLE, Idaho — Juliet Stewart of Eagle will steal your heart. She is four years old, she uses a wheelchair and she will be the first to tell you how fast she is on her little wheels!

“I can go very, very fast,” said Juliet Stewart.

Her mother, Katie Stewart, said that wherever Juliette goes, she attracts attention. He’s just that kind of child, filled with joy and sunshine.

“She made a friend at the grocery store just yesterday! She really has a great personality and she gives the best hugs,” Katie said with a beaming smile. “She’s a real sweetheart.

Juliet was born with spina bifida, a condition that can cause paralysis.

“When we received her diagnosis, we were completely devastated. We were told that she might never walk and that she might also have cognitive delays, but we really didn’t know what to expect and we we were totally scared,” Katie said. “If I could be myself again and give myself a glimpse of today, I wouldn’t be worried at all. Life with her is more incredible than I could have ever imagined!”

Juliette is the only girl in a family of brothers.

“I have three brothers, Collin, Court and Will,” Juliette said.

She attends Seven Oaks Elementary Developmental Preschool in Eagle. She loves to go around the black top in her wheelchair. But her school’s playgrounds are not fully accessible to children with disabilities or special needs.

“She loves school, and she has a lot of friends and she has great teachers, but the playground is really hard for her because it’s a place in her school experience where she just isn’t. unable to fully participate,” Katie said. “Right now, she’s too scared to go.”

“I’m afraid to go on the wood chips,” Juliet told KTVB.

The playground has wood chips instead of a hard surface, and Juliette cannot move her wheelchair on it. His chair gets stuck.

“It’s just too difficult,” Juliette said.

Katie said she couldn’t imagine Juliet spending the next few years in primary school without being able to play on the playground and structures with the other children. She says there are no immediate plans to renovate the playgrounds at Seven Oaks Elementary.

“It breaks my heart,” Katie said. “I just want her to play with her friends and it’s a long time to sit on the sidelines and not participate, so I started with a Go Fund Me and contacted my own friends and family for donations! We raised around $6900. Then the PTA, I didn’t even have to ask them for help. They saw what I was doing and they stepped in to help me and they organized the color race to raise more money.”

The entire school community of Seven Oaks came together to participate in the Color Run fundraiser!

“They raised about $47,000,” Katie said admiringly. “I was blown away, I was overwhelmed with the support from the PTA and all the families at school!”

There are three outdated playgrounds in Seven Oaks. Katie said the cost to make a single ADA playground accessible would be around $200,000. There’s more fundraising to do. This is where PTA member Rollin Hansen comes into this story. He said he knew he had to be a part of this playground project, especially after meeting Juliette and her mother.

“The school, the teachers, the faculty, everyone here at Seven Oaks is amazing,” Hansen said. “Our kids love it here, and when I found out she was fundraising for it, it warmed my heart and broke it at the same time.”

the Hansen company, 208 Properties, organizes a golf tournament every year for charity, and this year he decided that the playground fund would be the beneficiary. The tournament will take place on August 5 at Eagle Hills Golf Course.

“It’s something we’re really passionate about and we want to raise as much money as possible,” Hansen said. “Come meet some of the kids who will be there and family members from the community.”

People can play golf or simply donate online to the cause. Hansen said he looks forward to the day when this accessible playground becomes a reality.

“It will feel complete, I mean all the kids should be able to participate on the playground,” Hansen said.

When we spoke to Juliet about wanting to build a place for her to play, she was thrilled.

“What? That’s great,” Juliet said happily.

Her mum Katie would like to thank everyone who has donated so far.

“It means everything to me, seeing this remodeled playground would be a dream come true,” Katie said.

To register for the August 5 golf tournament, or simply to donate to the cause, click HERE.

We reached out to West Ada School District about this effort, and the district said, “The West Ada School District supports the local effort to build an inclusive playground at Seven Oaks Elementary. We are incredibly impressed and appreciate the fundraising support. , especially parents, and determining how we can best support the students of Seven Oaks Elementary.This effort demonstrates the best of the West Ada community.

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Harold B. McConnell