Advocate envisions playground equipment for special needs patrons

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – You probably have some fond memories from your childhood playing at the park. So does an Albuquerque woman, but Tonya Rivera couldn’t play like her other friends or cousins because parks weren’t accessible.

Her organization, “Every Ability Plays,” has a vision to give every child a playful life.

“Every Ability Plays Project will support communities build accessible playgrounds starting in Albuquerque,” she said. “Every Ability Plays project has put in a special swing for this beautiful little boy, Joaquin, at Westgate Community Park,” Rivera added.

Rivera has cerebral palsy and speaks through a computer.

“I got this grand idea from watching a lady on TV,” she said. Philanthropist Wallis Annenberg donated a lot of money to get an accessible treehouse in California. “I thought to myself, why can’t we have something like that in Albuquerque?”

As a child, the only time Rivera could slide is when her dad would carry her up to the top. Her mom would catch her at the bottom.

“My parents made me feel included and made me feel included, and feel like I wasn’t any different from my little sister,” she said.

Rio Rancho has “A Park Above” and Albuquerque’s Loma Linda Park is also considered “inclusive.” The city notes that all its parks meet or exceed ADA standards.

But Rivera is pushing for more accessibility features like the swing Joaquin uses at local parks.

“Every Ability Plays project will be funded by getting donations, fundraising and writing grants. Right now we are looking for groups that can help us hold fundraiser events or people who can donate to this project,” she said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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