Rachel's Garden is named in honor of Rachel West
why this is important to Rachel -
“This park will be a big asset to the city of Goodlettsville and I hope it brings joy to all those who come by it.” – Rachel West
Rachel West is a lifelong resident of Goodlettsville and the daughter of a retired captain for the City of Goodlettsville Fire Department. She made good grades in school, has a ton of great friends, and wields a wicked sense of humor. She has been in a wheelchair her whole life but has never been one to complain and believes what her mom has said a million times. Things could always be worse and lots of people have it tougher than us.
Blessed always with good friends and wonderful caregivers—both at home and school—all through her life, Rachel found ways to have fun but it was not the same way her friends did. Her chair forced her to spend playtimes watching friends and classmates swing, rush down the slides and run around in the playgrounds. Her wheels would not move over the mulch and gravel, and even if it could, there was no equipment she could use. As she got older, she relived the experience at an amusement park during a school trip, inaccessible for the most part with her chair and to add insult to injury, even the bus ride to the field trips required separation from the friends she held dear.
Grown now and an aunt to her two nieces and a nephew, she still has to watch them play from a distance. It is easy for her to imagine the plight of chair bound parents everywhere with young children able to run and climb and jump.
The amount of people affected by playgrounds unequipped for individuals of physical or mental disabilities is vast. In 2017, 15 percent of all Tennesseans lived with a disability, according to the most recent Disability Status Report by Cornell University. That is over 100,000 people that for one reason or another, cannot access public facilities the same as the majority.
Parents in wheelchairs can’t be with their children on the playground, siblings can’t enjoy playing together, and even children on the autism spectrum can be overwhelmed or otherwise find it difficult to have fun with their peers.
Goodlettsville wants to provide an opportunity for parents and children of all abilities to play together. The Garden will be the playground of Rachel’s dream. The poured-in-place surface will give her the opportunity to roam around the playground with her nieces and nephew. Special playground equipment will allow wheelchair-bound kids to roll up to a glider or swing, giving them the ability to truly play with their friends and siblings. With sensory-friendly equipment, even children on the autism spectrum can enjoy playing at Rachel’s Garden.
This playground for all will soften the harsh reminder that Rachel and others with physical disabilities are not like the other children. It will hide for a time the thought that they can’t have fun the same way other kids can. This time, they can all play together – no barriers.