What Is Count Me In Foundation?
Count Me In is a not-for-profit organisation operating in South Australia founded and majority managed by people with disability.
Count Me In believes that by including people with a disability and their carers in the management, design and delivery of universal design principles in public places and buildings, we will create a better and more participant driven community.
Lily’s Story - A Count Me In Employee with Lived Experience Of Disability
I am twenty years old, and yet I still remember what it was like having to sit on a bench and see my friends play as I watched them at five years old. I will not forget this feeling, and that is why, as Count Me In Foundation’s Inclusion Officer, it is my mission to ensure children with disabilities do not feel this way and can play on a playground with other children, a right every child should have.
I have a physical disability Larsen Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that means my joints and connective tissue were not formed properly, and therefore I experience chronic pain and joint dislocations. I experience a lack of accessibility and universal design principles daily as a person with a disability and an ambulatory wheelchair user. And yet, it is the emotional pain of feeling left out and forgotten as a child that I still remember and impacts me today. It was not my childhood friends’ faults as they wanted to play with me just as much as I wanted to play with them. Nor was it necessarily my school’s or local park’s fault, as foundations such as Count Me In were not established yet. However, the lack of universal design heavily impacted in my ability to play as a young girl. Thankfully, I am a stronger person and now a disability advocate because of these injustices, however, I would not wish this upon any other child. I wish for children with disabilities to be able to socialise with other children, to raise awareness of disability through play to other children and to be just like any other little person, not worrying about whether they can get on the trampoline or swing. I wish that no other parent of a child with a disability will have to petition for years and construct an accessible playground for the needs of their own child (my mother did this). I wish that a parent can take their child with a disability to a park or school, and not worry, knowing they will be able to play on equipment, laugh and be just like any other child.
My wishes are soon becoming a reality, with my own support and lived experience, and with the partnership between Count Me In Foundation and All-In Play. Through creating universally designed playgrounds, no other child will have to feel they don’t fit in in a world not yet made for them. Children with disabilities will be able to play, laugh and socialise just like any other child, and this is why I am a part of the partnership between Count Me In Foundation and All-In Play, to ensure this is a reality for all children across South Australia.