More than just a playground: Nathan’s story

The following is a guest post from Kristen Spielman, the mother of a patient at the Woodwinds Clinic in Woodbury, MN.

Our son, Nathan, has had quite the journey since he was born 3 years ago. Many of you have walked a similar road. Just like us, you’ve cried, prayed, and rejoiced over your little one. I’d like to share our story with you and ask you to join us in helping Nathan, and other children with similar challenges, make even bigger strides than they are currently making in Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapies.

The day Nathan was born 3 years ago, the doctors told us that there was something different about him. His high palate, droopy eyelids, adducted thumbs, and perhaps most significant, his extremely low muscle tone, were all indicators that Nathan had a genetic syndrome. He has logged many hours with the special education department of our school district and has endured numerous blood draws and brace- and helmet-fitting appointments.

Most important to his development, Nathan has worked consistently in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy three times each week at Children’s Woodwinds Clinic in Woodbury, MN.

Last August, just before his third birthday, Nathan finally received a diagnosis. He has Multiminicore Disease, a rare genetic muscle condition in which his muscle cells will always only perform at a small percentage of normal function. As you can imagine, this affects EVERYTHING he does, from talking and chewing to gross motor skills. Nathan’s life will always be more difficult because of his disease, but his ability to communicate and perform daily tasks, quality of life, risk for falls, and movement is greatly improved through the therapies he learns and does at Children’s Woodwinds Clinic.

A unique opportunity has arisen at the Woodbury Clinic. An adjoining property right out the front door recently became available to Children’s. It was formerly the outdoor play area for a daycare. The current vision is for this area to be developed into a therapy playground.

For obvious reasons, one might think that such a playground would only be useful for Physical Therapy.  However, as the mom of a recipient of physical, occupational, and speech therapy, I can say with confidence, that it would benefit children receiving therapy in any of the 3 disciplines.

Megan Shepherd, a therapist at the Woodwinds Clinic, agrees. “A clinic playground would allow therapists to teach kids how to safely play and fully experience playgrounds at their neighborhood parks.”

The “work of play” is a child’s job. In my opinion, many of those “work hours” should be logged on a playground. Upon a child’s entrance to school, the playground will be an important learning space, second only to the classroom. Social skills, friendships, cooperation, and body awareness are only a few of the lessons that will be obtained there. How much better prepared will our children be for that environment if they know how to use a playground safely, effectively, and without fear?

Would you please join me in making it possible for this “Children’s” playground to be built?  Thank you for considering this opportunity. Your gift will bless Nathan, and in turn our family, and many other children and their families in countless ways for many years to come.

You can find more information about the project and make this playground a reality with a gift at GiveMN.

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