Schae Richards, managing editor
Eight-year-old Aiden Carroll likes to do everything a typical little boy likes to do. He loves to play sports; he loves to play tag; he loves to help his dad on the farm. Nothing can stop Aiden, not even his disability.
Aiden was born with a birth defect called Fibular Hemimelia, a condition when the fibula is missing from the legs. Because of this condition, Aiden had to have both legs amputated below the knee when he was just 16 months old.
Aiden’s mother, Brandi Carroll, of Soda Springs, said while her son’s disability has brought its own challenges, it doesn’t keep him from being an active little boy. “The doctors told us he would never be able to walk upstairs, jump or do all of these things,” she said. “He does it all now.” However, taking Aiden to different places around town can be challenging at times. Brandi gave a specific of example.
Last summer, Aiden had knee surgery and was in a wheelchair for about two months which limited his mobility. Brandi said this change made taking Aiden places like the park much harder. “He would cry because he wanted to play with the other kids,” she said. “He just had to sit and watch.” Brandi became discouraged during these moments, wishing her son could play with the other children on the playground. Fortunately, help wasn’t too far away.
Mother of five, Laura Lind, of Soda Springs, approached Brandi at the park one day, and asked about Aiden’s situation. Laura explained how she had seen Brandi before and other mothers with their children at the park who struggled to get their children to and from the different equipment, and how the community could benefit from a play area where all children of all abilities could play. Brandi loved the idea of a place where Aiden could play freely with the other kids and not be worried about his safety.
Laura started recruiting her friends and other people in the community to help raise funds for the new play area that will be called Caribou Community Playground. This playground will be located on the northeast side of the Soda Springs City Park, and will feature rubberized flooring that is wheelchair accessible, special swings for moms and babies, a “tot lot” and much more in one convenient location. The playground is expected to start construction May 2018.
Aiden is excited for the new playground and has even put his own personal touches on the project. “When the designer asked the community what they wanted the playground to include, Aiden said he wanted a combine tractor that he and other kids could play on, so the designer fit that into the plan,” Brandi said.
Local mother and volunteer coordinator for the project, Kara Harris, said, “This playground means kids get to play together, my kids won’t have to look at those with disabilities and wonder why they can’t play. It means kids with disabilities will get to feel and know what it’s like to be a ‘normal’ kid. I am so excited to see this playground come together, and watch kids play equally.”
Another mother, Danielle Stoor, said, “This playground means great and safe fun for my family. My eight year old, five year old and six month old can go play together and separately.”
Like these other mothers, Brandi said everyone’s child can benefit from this new playground. “You might not need this playground right now, but you never know what will happen in the future,” she said.
Co-general coordinator for the project, Georgia Brown agreed with Brandi and said, “No person in our community can say, for a fact, that their families will never need a playground like this. You never know when a day may come that your family will cherish a playground like this. It is something every community should have. That is why our committee has put so much time and effort into this. We literally are trying to level the playing field.”
People can support this project by spreading the word to family and friends, volunteering their time to help with fundraisers and making a donation. Donations can be submitted through their website at friendsoftheparksoda.com or deposited in their account at Advantage Plus in Soda Springs.