While there's no dearth of playgrounds in St. Louis, only five can be deemed as accessible to all children, regardless of their abilities. One of the aforesaid five playgrounds is known as Kade’s Playground and it is located in the small Jefferson County town of Herculaneum.
At first glance, it may look a bit out of place, being a massive volcano smack in the middle of a Missouri town. Despite bearing a striking resemblance to an exploding volcano, it is not dangerous at all.
Hoping to bring happiness to children and families, Kade’s Playground was created back in October 2012. The playground was named Kade’s Playground as an expression of respect for Kade Bauman, who had Mitochondrial Disease and was confined to a wheelchair. Aside from the inability to develop muscle mass, with seizures, Kade was also visually impaired.
As if that weren't enough, lack of wheelchair accessible playgrounds in Jefferson County stopped Kade from playing with his older brother Jackson -- something he loved.
In the bid to let the two brothers play next to each other, the Bauman family had to drive all the way to Clayton or St. Charles County.
While it made Jackson feel like he was leaving his younger brother out, Kade and Jackson’s mom Annette Bauman said she felt really sad that they couldn't even play side by side.
Annette and her husband Josh left no stone unturned in the bid to get an all-accessible playground set up in Jefferson County, but much to their dismay, Kade succumbed to the disease in 2012 at just 3-years-old. The loss of Kade was heartbreaking for the family.
“Everything I miss about him….just him being here,” said Jackson Bauman.
Thanks to a joint effort by people involved with Kade’s Playground, Herculaneum finally sanctioned the funds to finish off the all-accessible playground.
Now, Kade's memory lives on in the handicap accessible swings, monkey bars, and volcano slide.
Kade’s Playground is not exclusively designed just for kids, but it is accessible for adults with disabilities and veterans as well.
People with multiple sclerosis and those who are amputees returning veterans of war get their children and grandchildren at the playground, Josh Bauman said. After losing his brother at 5-years-old, Jackson had no choice but to grow up faster than he'd like. He now realizes that it is imperative to always treat individuals with respect whether or not they can play, talk or walk.
Currently, Kade’s Playground is fundraising money in order to make a splash pad on site.
Herculaneum will be hosting a 5K and Half Marathon on October 1, and earnings will be utilized for Kade’s Playground and building a splash pad. You can register for the "Run for your Life: Zombie’s Vs. Superheroes" by clicking here.
(Image Credit: Dennis Boyd/YouTube)