I was at The Willow Bend Mall play area in Plano, Texas with my kids today. The Looney Tunes PlayLink, is presented by The Medical Center of Plano and features many cartoon favorites including Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Pepe Le Pew and more. The fun starts at the entrance, where Bugs Bunny will check-in little ones into the play area. Kids can weigh-in with the Tasmanian Devil, and Tweety can check their heart beats. Overhead, Porky Pig and Yosemite Sam oversee activities in a helicopter, while Gossamer playfully sticks out his tongue in a kid-sized hospital. As we were leaving I noticed a very interesting thing…..accessible parking spaces!
I thought it was so interesting that the play area designers went out of their way to create this little detail. Was it that we are so used to seeing accessible parking spaces in our parking lots, or is it that we are trying to send a message to our children?
I thought it was great! Good for them! As architects we are so used to planning for the disabled that it becomes second nature as we design. And in the day to day world, our children are becoming more aware that accessible parking spaces are always there when they go shopping at the mall, the store, the movie theater and even the hospital. They may not know exactly why they are there, but they begin by having respect for the spaces and hopefully respect for the individuals who use them and have fought so hard for their civil rights which has been provided for them 20 years ago
by the Americans with Disabilities Act. May they grow up to be tolerant and compassionate adults who will not think twice about removing all architectural and cultural barriers that stand in the way of the disabled members of our society.