A new partnership brings playful to a new level. The Madison Claire Foundation, along with Maplewood Mall, will construct the first indoor inclusive playground at the mall. This play structure will give kids with and without disabilities an opportunity to play together. “Every child should have the ability to play,” Dana Millington, head of the Madison Claire Foundation, says. After the loss of her daughter Madison, after whom the foundation is named, she made it her mission to create playgrounds that were accessible for people with disabilities like her daughter.
This goal led to the June 2016 opening of Madison’s Place at the HealthEast Sports Center in Woodbury. A year later, Millington met with Nikki Drennan, marketing director at Maplewood Mall, and the inclusive indoor playground project ignited. “We feel like providing this play area will create a sense of inclusion,” says Jennifer Lewis, general manager of Maplewood Mall. “The play area provides an opportunity to continue to educate children not to focus on differences in others, but build on similarities.”
Millington says that building a playground indoors encounters more obstacles versus an outdoor structure. “The main point you have to work around is ceiling height; with outdoor playgrounds you can build as tall as you want,” she says.
Just as with Madison’s Place, the purpose of the Maplewood Mall playground is for kids to “go play and imagine and just be a kid,” Millington says.