Mom shares video of daughter enjoying wheelchair-accessible pool

Katrina Placzek noted that wheelchairs are not usually water-friendly.

ByYi-Jin Yu via via logo
September 26, 2022, 4:28 AM

An Illinois mother is raising awareness of inclusive design by sharing a video of her daughter enjoying a wheelchair-accessible swimming pool.

Katrina Placzek posted a vlog on YouTube earlier this month of her daughter Dallas using a special pool-friendly wheelchair at Tiff's Place, a wheelchair-accessible vacation home in Chuluota, Florida, about 22 miles east of Orlando.

In a related Instagram video post, she asked, "Have you ever seen an aquatic wheelchair at an accessible pool?"

"They do not float & can be totally submerged," Placzek continued in captions overlaid on the video. "They have locking wheels and an anti-tip design. There is also a seatbelt for safety. Love this accessibility!"

Placzek told "Good Morning America" she and her family were impressed by how inclusive the unique wheelchair's design was, noting that traditional wheelchairs feature parts that can rust easily when exposed to water.

"We'd never seen a wheelchair like that before. It was made out of PVC," Placzek recalled. "We sat Dallas in there and it just had a ramp and then you go around the ramp area and then it gets deep but there's a speed bump sort of thing at the bottom so you know not to go where it drops. So if you're a wheelchair user, you don't go and drop at the bottom."

"It was really cool to see the entire house [at Tiff's Place] was designed with wheelchair users in mind," the mom of four added.

PHOTO: Dallas, her mom, Katrina Placzek, and sister Brooklyn enjoy an accessible swimming pool at Tiff's Place, an accessible vacation home in Florida.
Dallas, her mom, Katrina Placzek, and sister Brooklyn enjoy an accessible swimming pool at Tiff's Place, an accessible vacation home in Florida.
Katrina Placzek

Dallas, now 8, was born premature at 28 weeks and has quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy, which affects her arms and legs and makes it hard for her to walk, according to her mom. The condition requires Dallas to navigate the world in a different way -- something Placzek hopes to shine a light on through social media.

PHOTO: Dallas at 1 year old, playing in a baby saucer back in March 2015.
Dallas at 1 year old, playing in a baby saucer back in March 2015.
Katrina Placzek

Placzek said she started sharing Dallas' story and life on her "Discover With Dallas" Instagram and YouTube pages after one pivotal experience with a wheelchair swing at their local park. Before the experience, the family had stopped visiting parks with Dallas because there weren't any accessible features for her to enjoy, but seeing and using the wheelchair swing changed everything.

PHOTO: Dallas used a wheelchair swing for the first time in July 2021. This was taken at Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles, IL.
Dallas used a wheelchair swing for the first time in July 2021. This was taken at Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles, IL.
Katrina Placzek

"I never thought of it, like how important this is, and to see how inclusion makes someone feel in front of your eyes. It was like, 'I think I need to show the world what this means for kids like her,' " Placzek recounted. "You don't really think about it until you're in a wheelchair because we don't live in that world and when you have a kid that can't go to a lot of places, you just stop going."

PHOTO: Dallas at an inclusive playground in Lake Zurich, Illinois in May. According to her mom, Dallas helped raise money at her therapy school to build the playground.
Dallas at an inclusive playground in Lake Zurich, Illinois in May. According to her mom, Dallas helped raise money at her therapy school to build the playground.
Katrina Placzek
PHOTO: Dallas first wore ankle foot orthotics in December 2014.
Dallas first wore ankle foot orthotics in December 2014.
Katrina Placzek

Through "Discover With Dallas," Placzek strives to center Dallas' journey and her work as an actress and model too, instead of her own as a parent of a child with cerebral palsy.

"The important thing about her social media account that I make sure is that it's in representation of the disability community, and not necessarily in representation of my story," Placzek said. "I think that's hard to find in children with social media, disabled children['s] pages because there's a lot of them. But a lot of it doesn't have the representation of the child, but the representation of raising the child."

Placzek's wheelchair-accessible swimming pool posts have since taken off and comments have been positive, she said. She hopes the momentum continues and that more places and products can be designed with inclusivity and accessibility in mind.

"The most important thing is just for people to think about disabled children and think about disabled adults when they're making a business, or they're designing a playground, or if the school is building a new, updated playground," Placzek said.

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