Children who are nonverbal should have just as much fun as other kids at parks. Parents came up with a thoughtful gesture to ensure the same.
Children love to enjoy the outdoors and playgrounds, running around and exploring all that the world has to offer. However, children who are nonverbal might find it difficult to enjoy these experiences to the fullest due to others being unable to comprehend their needs. Since no child should be excluded from having fun and making good memories due to challenges like these, parents at Virginia Beach decided to do something wholesome. According to WTKR News, parents made a collective decision and effort to install communication boards in several playgrounds and parks to aid children who are nonverbal.
Courtney Peebles is a mom to two children who are diagnosed with autism and are nonverbal. She explained that the family had to rely on devices to help them communicate their needs, especially at the park and outdoors. “On days when it's raining and we still want to play at the park or something, a board like that makes a huge difference for us because we can't bring an iPad out in the rain,” the mom said. To add to her input, Ashley Causey, a speech pathologist, shared how difficult it can be to understand children’s needs without clear communication and how hard it is on both parents and children. “It can be difficult not to be heard. I can’t imagine not having a voice myself,” she said.
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With all these things in mind, parents in the community decided to team up with a company called Smarty Symbols to design and install boards that will aid children in communicating at parks. The boards are called community communication boards and have symbols that represent a need a child may have. It allows children to choose as per their emotions and express what they’re feeling. With 11 sponsors and much dedication, thoughtfulness and hard work, the parents were able to set up 11 community communication boards at 11 parks in Virginia Beach.
The signs on the board cover quite a few needs children may have at parks. These include signs about the weather, signs to use the washroom or any other equipment at the playground and more. There are also signs for children to express whether they’re hurt or upset and so on. Smarty Symbols shared a post on Instagram with the boards ready and thriving at playgrounds. The caption read, “Making Playgrounds Inclusive, One Symbol at a Time! By incorporating visual symbols, we empower children of all abilities to express themselves and engage with their peers on the playground." Citizens are quite thrilled with the mindful initiative and are sure to spread the word.
The Draper City Government posted on Facebook about their newly added board, saying, “The new communication board is a tool that fosters understanding and expression. This additional feature adds to the park’s inclusive nature, allowing participants of all abilities to communicate and interact.”
“These communication boards are not just a collection of images; they're keys to unlocking a world of expression for nonverbal individuals. They represent joy, connection and understanding. From simple requests like 'swing' or 'snack' to sharing emotions and making choices, these boards are helping bridge communication gaps in the most beautiful ways,” another post read. Children and parents can now be free of worry and insecurity thanks to the efficient communication methods set up.