This post was written by guest blogger Juliet Dawkins.
To many young kids it doesn’t get much better than playing on a playground. The carefree joy of swinging, climbing, and going down a slide, over and over again, can be the highlight of a child’s day. A playground is also one of the only places that offers free, unorganized, unsolicited play. Kids aren’t divided up by age, ability or need and they can play alongside others they’ve never met, kids from all walks of life. The beauty of a playground is like no other. It’s pure, it’s simple, it’s old-fashioned outdoor fun…for most.
Lucia Dawkins is 6 years old and lives in Denver with her parents, Jason and Juliet, and her two younger siblings, Scout and River. Their family of five leads an active life typical of many families in Colorado. However, their family isn’t as typical as most. Lucia was born with a rare genetic condition called Pallister Killian Syndrome, or PKS, and is affected from head to toe. While Lucia faces many challenges, she is still just a little girl who wants to experience the joy, love and laughter in life. As the Dawkins family visits playgrounds, as many families do with little kids, they have found their daughter Lucia is often left to sit in her wheelchair and watch other kids play. Most playgrounds in our area do not offer something for everyone. Lucia’s parents plan to change that and recently founded a non-profit, LuBird’s Light Foundation, in honor of Lucia, affectionately called “LuBird.”
LuBird’s Light Foundation believes every child deserves a chance to play beside their peers. They deserve a chance to smile on a slide. They deserve a chance to feel the wind on their face from a swing. They deserve to be kids. There are so many things kids with special needs aren’t able to participate in and playgrounds should not be one of them.
Fortunately, Stanley Marketplace has generously granted LuBird’s Light Foundation approximately 5,000 square feet of outdoor space to build a very special playground, one where kids of all kinds can play. Stanley is a perfect location for this kind of playground because of its community-focused mission, spelled out in the Stanifesto, and its proximity to pediatric hospitals. The wish list for this playground includes state-of-the-art handicapped accessible swings, spinners and slides, musical sensory play equipment and more, with a magical vibrant design. With the help of generous donors, grants, corporate sponsors, and fundraisers, LuBird Light Foundation’s goal is to raise $500,000 and break ground by early 2018.
Consulting with landscape architects, developmental therapists, Anchor Center for Blind Children, Firefly Autism and Landscape Structures, the foundation is working to complete the design and fulfill the vision of LuBird’s playground. In partnership with the City of Denver, and, hopefully, other local municipalities, the foundation will also be adding supported swings to existing parks throughout the metro area to ensure all children can enjoy their neighborhood playgrounds.
On September 23, LuBird’s Light Foundation will host the 2017 St. Lucia White Party fundraiser at The Hangar at Stanley. The White Party is a celebratory night of music, drinks, food sponsored by Machete, dancing, a silent auction, a paddle raise, entertainment, and much more. To buy tickets, sponsor the St. Lucia White Party, or learn more please visit www.lubirdslight.org.
LuBird’s Light’s dream is to build and enhance playgrounds for families and children of all abilities to grow, learn and experience the joys in life together in magical, welcoming outdoor spaces throughout the Aurora / Denver metro area.
Let’s help LuBird and her Foundation create a brighter world for exceptional kids, so all kids have a chance to play and spread their wings.