The other day we visited Patrick Gonzales and his family to do a shoot for a promotional video for A Park Above
. The park is designed to encourage inclusive play for children of all ages and abilities. Children like Tyler and Justin Gonzales.
Tyler and Justin have Angelman Syndrome (AS). AS is a neuro-genetic disorder characterized by severe intellectual and developmental disability, sleep disturbance, seizures, jerky movements, frequent laughter or smiling, and usually a happy demeanor.
We walked into the house to be greeted by Tyler, all smiles and laughter, he was so excited to have visitors. When Patrick told us about the boys' condition, I wondered if the reason for the name is that these kids have so much love and joy inside of them that they are called Angels. After some research I discovered that the syndrome is actually named after a doctor, but after spending time with these boys, it seems fitting nonetheless.
Society has not been kind to people like the Gonzales family. They point and stare, avoid eye contact, they whisper and laugh and refrain from engaging with them.
Being "normal" is something that many of us take for granted. Being able to speak, walk, read, write, sleep, etc. are all things we as "normal" people do every single day without even thinking about it. For Tyler and Justin, these are some of the things they will never be able to do. They can walk with help and have a few syllables they can get out, but beyond that, their day-to-day lives are very different from ours.
During the summer, when most kids are outside enjoying vacation, riding their bikes, playing in the park, having sleepovers and parties with friends, Tyler and Justin are inside most days. They like looking out the window and waving to passersby with smiles on their faces. You can see it in their eyes, they want to play so badly, but all they can do is watch, it's heartbreaking to see that, Gonzales said. When at parks, they sit on a bench watching their siblings and the other kids playing, longing to be included.
Why shouldn't these special children have a place where they can go to be part of something as special as they are? They will. That's why Edit House Productions, LLC has offered to create a promotional video to help raise much needed funds to support the park's cause and provide equipment.
There are hundreds of families that have special needs children right here in our community. Many of them remain silent because it's easier, or because they are afraid, or because they don't know what else to do. This park can be a place where everyone can play together and no one has to feel left out or lonely. Parents can feel assured that their children are getting the interaction and playtime with other kids that they need and the kids can feel normal, even if it's only in this place, a place where Angels can play.