Children’s Day at Deportivas Juarez

The other really terrific Children’s Day event in which we participated last weekend was a huge festival for local kids from the more marginalized neighborhoods of town. It was held at the Canchas Juarez on Sunday. (I already posted about the terrific opening of the Marco Polo Park last Monday, which was Children’s Day here in Mexico.)

The festival at the Deportivas Juarez was very well organized: well-publicized, a published schedule, lots of organizers wearing colored shirts, Scouts present to help out. There were people at the park collecting donations of toys and gifts all week leading up to the event. They had a clown as a Master of Ceremonies who was just terrific, and the mayor and his wife and the full Cabildo Infantil 2012 showed up. The whole Juarez complex, by the way, is amazingly state-of-the-art: green grass on the fields, covered bleachers, large clean toilet facilities. Kudos to the city and the local business sponsors for building this new park for our kids!

The children on Sunday had so many terrific activities in which they could participate! There were sports events such as running races on the track, baseball games, soccer and American football games. There were carnaval-type games and face painting. There was music and dancing. There were gifts and prizes, from new bicycles and soccer balls to dolls and toys and books. We made a human fish and a helicopter arrived to take photos, to the delight of the kids. But the biggest hit of this party, hands-down, were the half dozen or so swimming pools that they had brought in and filled on-site. Some of the kids didn’t want to get out of those pools even to run and wave at the helicopter (though the helicopter was a HUGE hit)!

The event was organized by a long list of local grassroots organizations, and sponsored by a large number of local businesses. About 1500 kids had a really terrific time; an amazing turnout for a first-time-ever event, I thought. I was so proud to be involved. There were so many giggles and delighted faces.

Take a look and enjoy the slideshow above! If you’d rather see larger photos, click through to SmugMug. Some videos I took of the event have also been posted to YouTube, if you are curious. I’m sure they’ll be edited together in time; right now they are just raw footage. First one is here, and you can see there are about a dozen more if you’re trying to find something in particular. Enjoy!

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.