New Marco Polo Park for "Differently Abled" Kids in Mazatlán


Can you imagine you are a child in a wheelchair, watching as your friends swing in the park? How do you feel? Watching them slide down the slide, or go up and down on the teeter totter, or round and round on the carousel, while you sit in your chair?

Rotary Club North chapter has worked for seven years in cooperation with many others in our community to build a park for “differently abled” children in Mazatlán. I love that term, along with the other commonly used term here, “special kids.”

The Grand Opening of the Marco Polo Park in Fraccionamiento La Campiña was this week, in commemoration of Children’s Day, and what a pride and joy to our local community it is! Huge kudos to everyone involved!

The first park of its kind in the state, there is hope that it’s success will spur the building of more parks with handicap-accessible play equipment throughout Mexico.

It is a true local success story. The first fundraising event for this park was held in December 2005, a chef’s dinner called De Amores y Sabores, with seven local chefs donating their time and talent. They served a seven-course dinner for 320 people. It was a huge financial and gastronomic success, and provided the initial funding to get started with the project.

With the cooperation of Rotary Club members and their wives, the land on which to build the park was secured. Several Rotary Presidents traveled north to Tucson and other places, visiting Rotary chapters to try to obtain funding to build the park. In the end, the park was funded locally, with municipal, state and federal government support, and many private companies from Mazatlán funding the manufacture of the special play equipment.

Leti Alvarado Fuentes assigned her architecture students a project: adapt common park play equipment so that special needs kids can use it and enjoy it. They did a terrific job. Then Jorge Medina, our resident iron work professional, found a gentleman who could manufacture the play equipment. And, oilá, Parque Marco Polo was born! The swing holds a wheelchair securely. The slide accommodates two people going down at once: one to hold the other safely. And the teeter-totter also accommodates two people: one to sit in back and hold the person in front. The merry-go-round wasn’t yet functional this week, so we have something to look forward to!

Below are two video clips. The first is television news coverage of the inaugural event, and the second is the early park animation that the Rotary Club used to attract donations.

If you are interested, here is a link to a newspaper story about the inauguration.

Finally, here are a few vocabulary words I learned, since I don’t hang out in too many children’s parks these days.

  • The play equipment in the park is just called juegos.
  • The merry-go-round is the carosel. Easy enough!
  • The teeter-totter (some call it a seesaw) is the sube y baja. Also easy enough, but more fun in English I dare say, lol.
  • The slide is the resbaladilla.
  • And, drum roll please, the most important piece of park play equipment, the swing: columpio!
Hearty congratulations to all those involved in this park! Now children can play alongside one another regardless of ability, creating an equality of joy! I do hope that many more parks of this type might be built, throughout our state and country, providing more access to all children.


About Dianne Hofner Saphiere

There are loads of talented people in this gorgeous world of ours. We all have a unique contribution to make, and if we collaborate, I am confident we have all the pieces we need to solve any problem we face. I have been an intercultural organizational effectiveness consultant since 1979, working primarily with for-profit multinational corporations. I lived and worked in Japan in the late 70s through the 80s, and currently live in and work from México, where with a wonderful partner we've raised a bicultural, global-minded son. I have worked with organizations and people from over 100 nations in my career. What's your story?

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