Sunday, July 1, 2018

a backyard for everyone

It’s been a year since we moved into our new home - a move that was tailored around creating an accessible home for Eliza. A whole year! I can’t even explain what an incredible move this has been for her. The ability to go anywhere and do anything in her own home is such a simple but impactful change. Her independence has gone through the roof and we. are. loving. it. 

So what’s the next logical step? We say an accessible back yard!
Having an outside space that a kiddo in a wheelchair can manage is really difficult. Grass is crazy hard to push a chair through and reaching things is near impossible. But it was important to us to give her the fully opportunity to be a kid and play outside, especially in her own yard.

When we moved, we left a beautiful custom treehouse that my husband and father in law built for our son Jake. It was completely just six weeks before Eliza was diagnosed with spina bifida. We knew pretty quickly that a treehouse like that really wasn’t ideal for a kiddo with mobility issues.
Our original tree house at the old house.

Also, they don’t sell backyard kids for accessible playhouses at the home improvement store. Even the existing playhouses that site on the ground don’t have openings wide enough for chairs, or fully ramped entrances. This definitely hadn't been done before. We were starting from squared one.

But that’s never stopped us before!

It wasn’t long before we had dreamed up what this sweet little space would look like, and once again, my hubby and father in law got to work.

We wanted to give Eliza a playhouse, but also a separate space next to the playhouse for things like a picnic table and a water table. We also wanted to make sure that she could navigate this fully independently, which meant that she would need an accessible path from our cement patio out to the playhouse area.

With all that in mind, here’s what we created!
We started with a spacious platform on the ground with the idea that the playhouse would sit in the corner of it. A little space for some chairs out on the "porch" and extra space on the side for more room to play.
The sweet little gate railing serves as a safety precaution so she can accidentally roll off and hurt herself. Plus its cute.

Some paint, a few shutters, and even a couple of window boxes, and this house is fit for princess!
The final step (and probably most complicated) was to create a pathway from our back patio to the house. We needed to also include a ramp that would conquer the four inches or so of elevation from the grass to the platform.
We decide to pull out all of our grass along a marked pathway to better even the soil. A dirt bed was created and packed in, and then we custom cut boards to follow along the path. 
It worked marvelously!!

My kiddos also love to swing! So we added a freestanding swing set. Eliza’s swing has a special contraption on it called a Baby Swing Sling which gives her extra support to sit on a standard swing. It’s right off Amazon and so cool! 

We also moved our chalkboard over from the old house! The kids love to draw and it’s a perfect height for Eliza both in her wheelchair or to stand and draw in her braces! Love!! 
All in all, we’re so happy with this space. It’s a space for any kid, wheelchair or not. But the fact that our gal can fully participate is definitely something special! 

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