Level the Playing Field
Dottie & Del’s Playground is the new accessible playground located in the Good Zoo just above the African Adventure Area. Incorporating ramps and climbing areas, with soft surfaces and interactive games like tic-tac-toe and steering wheels, there are multiple levels for every child to play and have fun.
When you grow up with a family member in a wheelchair, all of the struggles to go out and do anything are just your “normal.” Prior to 1990s passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, families like the Pallottinis spent time planning how to allow matriarch, Dottie, the opportunity to get out and participate. “Growing up with my mom in a wheelchair, I was always aware of the difficulty of accessibility,” Patti Pallottini Sparachane explained.
Families dealing with mobility challenges are resourceful. They identify ways to limit getting in and out of the car – to hear a concert at Heritage Port, you drive to the top of the inter modal parking garage and roll the windows down – to see your grandchildren play sports, you find a parking spot with sight lines of the whole field. “It’s just what you do,” said Sparachane.
The Sparachane family focuses on inclusion and access. Nick and Patti have seen how other parks have created accessible play places for everyone and wanted to bring one to Wheeling. When the Good Zoo sought donors to upgrade the former playground, “it felt so right,” Sparachane shared. “We started conversations in late fall 2019, I can’t believe it happened this quickly. My mother and father would be so proud, they’d be thrilled.”
Sparachane added, “Our children grew up going to Oglebay and the Good Zoo. Now, it’s the grandchildren. We’re in the park all the time, and when you see a child in a wheelchair playing on a playground, it’s not just the child’s joy, but their parent’s joy too. Every child should have that opportunity.”
Thanks to the Sparachane family, now every child can join in the fun.