Play is having the opportunity to explore the world around you in a way that is fun and stress free. Children are able to develop physically, socially, intellectually and morally through play. Adults are able to bond with and teach their children through play. Play is a way for people of all ages to interact, learn and socialize. ~ Amanda Gislason
Everyone has a story that changes who they are and what drives them to make the world around them a better place.
Here are our stories.
Since the day our son, Gunnar, was born, we promised him that we would do everything we could to make sure he has the same opportunities available to him that other kids have. While traveling to different places around the country, we had the opportunity to visit and play at some inclusive playgrounds, something we didn’t even know existed! It was an amazing experience to allow our son to play on any piece of equipment the playground had and not worry that he would hurt himself or that he would be frustrated that he couldn't do something. This made us realize that we didn't experience that feeling at any of the playgrounds in or around Owatonna. Each playground had features that just weren't made for a child (or adult) with a disability. We began to look into inclusive playgrounds closer to home and there weren't any that were closer than a 45-minute drive. That is when we began pursuing the idea of creating an inclusive playground in Owatonna. Since we began this process, we have driven and played at a number of the inclusive playgrounds in the state of MN. We have never been disappointed.
~Amanda and Andrew Gislason
Our daughter Miley is only 13 months younger than her brother Carson, so from the beginning we have been exposed to the reality of the physical limitations that she faces compared to her brother and her able bodied peers. However, just because the physical limitations have been there, that has never snuffed out her desire as a kid to play alongside her brother and her friends.
Then we learned of the Miracle League and we knew it was something we had to get involved with. In doing some research I discovered the nearest Miracle Field was an hour away, but we made the decision to try and make the commute work. With that step, we were rewarded with witnessing sheer joy as our daughter for the first time was able to participate and truly feel like she was part of the game.
We have made that commute for the last 3 years and will continue to do whatever we can to keep that smile on our daughters face, but we would like to now open that door and that opportunity to smile to other kids, adults, and families in our area. We have been fortunate enough in our situation where we have had the means to make the commute work, but we know many families’ circumstances are different. That is why we are working on this project, not only for our daughter’s smile, but for the dozens of other kids and adults from southeast Minnesota that we will be blessed to watch cross that plate and raise their arms in victory for maybe the first time in their lives.
-Missy and Nolan Ahrens