Shoshana Dreyfus stopped taking her intellectually disabled son to playgrounds long ago because of the stares and the parents who swiftly pulled their kids away in fear.
Instead of living in anger, she took it upon herself to campaign for a safe and welcoming play space for non-verbal adults like Bodhi, 25, a vision which is finally coming to fruition in North Wollongong - and a first for Australia.
"People don't like their young children playing with people like my son - because they're big, intellectually disabled, non-verbal and unknown to them," Dr Dreyfus said.
"I initiated this playground by lobbying local, state and federal politicians to make [an inclusive play space for young people and adults with disability] happen.
"I pinch myself every day that my weird idea of two years ago is actually happening."
Dr Dreyfus is also a senior lecturer at the University of Wollongong and has been heavily involved in the research and planning which has gone into the proposed space at Stuart Park.
The current play area would be expanded to include a new area with a range of natural and sensory spaces, as well as phased improvements to access, linking paths and parking.
Researchers consulted people with a range of severe disabilities - often non-verbal - to allow them to have a voice in what they wanted, instead of just asking their carers or advocates.
Dr Dreyfus said there were many inclusions in the design that would not have made it in otherwise - like inground trampolines, pathways, sound elements and a sensory garden.
Their research into play spaces has also led them to believe this new park would be an Australian first.
"I hope councils and whoever else puts money towards these things really see the value in it, and the needs of young adults with a disability are taken seriously," Dr Dreyfus said.
"Wouldn't it be great if this was like the first domino that sets off this whole row of playgrounds like this happening elsewhere ... as everyone in Australia can't come to Wollongong."
Stuart Park was chosen for the project due to its existing amenities and accessibility features, distance from a main road and environment.
The public can add their suggestions and views on the plans which are currently on exhibition through council's website until March 15.
A two-staged approach to construction is proposed, with Stage 1 works planned for June 2021.
The play space extension was informed by The Playground Project, a collaboration between UOW, the Disability Trust and Wollongong City Council.
The Playground Project worked with young people and adults with disability including those with intellectual disability, to understand their play preferences. Council officers also talked with young people with disability to find out what they would like included in this space.
Feedback on the project can be provided online or calling council's Engagement Team on (02) 4227 7111.