Let’s Build An Inclusive World Together.
Every three months, The Able Fables® features an inclusive playground that is still in the fundraising stage. We donate 20% of profits from books and apparel to help build our featured inclusive playground!
Our current feature is…
Passion Behind The Park
Opportunity for all to play.
Born and raised in Gainesville, Georgia, Ben & I met in high school. It was a “love at first sight” moment. We went our separate ways after high school; but as fate would have it (or thanks to my sister), we reconnected and married in May of 2013. The early years of our marriage were spent traveling and working hard in our businesses, as we are both local entrepreneurs. We were thrilled to welcome our first child, Thomas James, in 2018. A few years later, just after Thomas turned 2, we found out we were expecting again. We were so excited-what a precious gift!
Pregnancy with Baby #2 started off like the typical first trimester – all day sickness and constant heartburn. On a routine appointment at 26 weeks pregnant, our doctors discovered that our baby had some brain abnormalities. The next 14 weeks of pregnancy were filled with weekly tests, ultrasounds, and specialist appointments.
Ben and I wanted to be surprised by the gender of our baby, as we had waited until Thomas was born to discover his gender. However, when we learned that there were some medical complications with baby #2, we decided that we needed to find out the gender of the baby so we could specifically pray for him or her by name.
We had tossed around some ideas for names but had not settled on one yet for a boy or a girl. After one of our weekly specialist appointments, we had the nurse write the gender of the baby in an envelope and give it to us to take home. As we were getting in the car to go home, we both decided that we just couldn’t wait until we got home- we had to know right away! Ben opened the envelope and we both wept with joy to know that we were expecting a little girl. On the way home, Ben mentioned the name “Hope” was so fitting- and I couldn’t have agreed more. We decided, in that moment, to name our little girl, Hope Elizabeth.
On November 6th, 2020 we welcomed Hope into the world and she was immediately admitted to the NICU. The day after her birth, she was transferred to the CHOA NICU, where we stayed overnight, for some special testing and exams that could not be performed in Gainesville. We were transferred back to the Gainesville NICU and stayed for six additional days before being released to go home.
We settled into our new “normal”, which was much different than the newborn phase we had experienced with Thomas. Hope started early intervention therapy at 9 weeks old while Ben and I learned how to administer medicine around the clock. Each week, Hope completed anywhere from 2-6 early intervention therapy sessions. Hope worked hard to learn things that came so natural to our first born, such as learning how to eat, sit, crawl, and eventually walk.
Early on in our journey, we had multiple doctors make comments and predictions about Hope’s abilities. Some doctors expressed a lot of optimism about Hope’s abilites; while others told us, she may not be able to eat orally, talk, walk, see, or hear.
Several months after she was born, Hope was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome called Microthalmia with Linear Skin Defects Syndrome (MLS Syndrome). We learned MLS syndrome has less than 300 known cases in the world and that it is lethal in males. What a sign of His faithfulness: That He would gift us with a girl, who can live!
One afternoon, after receiving some difficult news at an appointment with Hope, I went to the Wauka Mountain track to take out my frustrations with a long run. I’ve always enjoyed running to blow off some steam and have been running here, at this track, for the past 20 years. Until this day, I had never paid attention to the playground. But after leaving an appointment, where a doctor had predicted that my child may not walk, I started to see the playground, and the world, through a different lens. It dawned on me that both of my kids will attend elementary school at Wauka Mountain, but there was a chance that they would not be able to play on the playground together. It broke my heart. I knew at that moment, I had to do something. I knew that all kids with all abilities deserved the chance to play together!
And just like that- Hope For Hall was born!
Inspired to make a positive change in our community, we started learning about inclusive playgrounds and connected with a local company that designs, builds and installs them. We partnered with friends, old and new, recruited family members and sought out advocates for the disabled community that believed in our mission. We met with public school administration, presented our inclusive playground design and thanks to Hall County Administration’s approval, Hope for Hall is fundraising and building Hall County’s first Inclusive playground at 1 of their 20 elementary schools.
Building our first inclusive playground is just the beginning; we have dreams of building many, many more! At the end of the day, our core belief is that all kids of all abilities deserve the opportunity to play together!
My favorite part about the playground is the maze. The maze is unique and allows us to tie in the education piece of our mission. Our maze has 13 customizable panels which will allow us to feature the Braille alphabet, ASL alphabet, picture and bio of Helen Keller, picture and bio of Louis Braille, and picture and bio of “The Armless Archer.” Wauka Mountain offers archery to its students so we wanted to showcase “The armless archer”, who is a Paralympic gold medalist, that shoots with his feet. It is pretty and amazing and we think it will be inspiring for the kids!
To normalize disability though play, education and technology.
Wauka Mountain Elementary School