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'A Moral Obligation': Mansfield Family Wants Playground Accessible For All Kids

MANSFIELD (CBS) – Estelle Lemieux has a big personality for a four-year old. Nothing makes her smile like a day at the playground with her parents, but it can also be a disheartening experience.

"Estelle has a rare disease called SMA, Spinal Muscular Atrophy," her mother Amy Lemieux told WBZ-TV. "It affects all her muscles, mostly her legs are affected."

She relies on a wheelchair to get around. Navigating most playgrounds, like the one at Mansfield Memorial Park by their home is a challenge.

"She gets frustrated and a little down when she can't do it by herself because she's four, she wants that independence," said her father Doug Lemieux.

Mansfield Parks and Recreation director, Sherri Hutton Gurnon, said the space is ADA compliant in a statement that read in part: "The Memorial Park Playground was designed and constructed according to and in conjunction with all ADA requirements inclusive to equipment, rubber surfacing and wood fiber."

Estelle Lemieux
Estelle Lemieux at Memorial Park playground in Mansfield (WBZ-TV)

The Lemieux family doesn't understand why the entire playground can't be covered by rubber turf. Once Estelle's wheelchair hits the steep slope between the rubber flooring and the woodchips, another issue presents itself.

"I can't! It's hard with the woodchips! I can't," Estelle told her parents at the playground.

The Lemieuxs believe more can be done to make play spaces accessible for all kids.

"It would be great if the community came together and realized that although this might say it's ADA compliant – clearly it's not," her mother said. "She can't access this."

"It should be more than a legal obligation; it should be a moral obligation to the community," said Doug Lemieux.

The family hopes that speaking out will lead to changes at the playground while Estelle is still young enough to enjoy it.

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