STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — Behind the scenes of NCIS, executive producer Scott Williams makes television magic.
But off set, the executive and his wife are making dreams come true with an initiative launched after the loss of their son, Shane.
“When we first learned of the glaring unmet need of inclusive play – that there were no playgrounds where kids with disabilities could play side-by-side with their able-bodied peers – we were shocked,” Scott told CBS2’s Kent Shocknek.
The television producer and and his wife, Catherine Curry-Williams, say Shane was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a condition affecting only one in 6,000 children.
Just a few weeks after his birth, Shane passed away. But for those who survive, it can mean a lifetime in a wheelchair.
“We thought that this idea was a no-brainer. How come these playgrounds don’t exist?” Scott asked.
Out of the most unthinkable of tragedies, Scott and Catherine came up with the idea to create a place where Shane would have played – and the organization known as Shane’s Inspiration was founded to raise money for these special playgrounds.
“Our mission has grown with the need, because there are so many families who have parents and grandparents that would like to play simply with their children at a park side-by-side,” Catherine said.
The parks are outfitted with things like rubberized surfacing and sand tables instead of sand boxes to address the different needs of children with disabilities.
“With sand and wood chips, it’s difficult for kids with walkers and wheelchairs to get around,” Scott explained. “There are things with Braille. There are things that are tactile for them to feel with their hands. There’s balance things for kids with Down syndrome.”
The cost to build an inclusive playground isn’t cheap. Each one costs $100,000 to $750,000, depending on its size.
Now, 17 years later, on the opening of the 50th playground in Studio City, Shane’s memory continues to inspire.
“Everyone has taken on this cause as their own, and that is the part that is most moving to us,” Scott said.
For a map of inclusive playgrounds in the L.A.-area and more information about Shane’s Inspiration, visit the organization’s website.