Thursday , March 09, 2017 - 5:00 AM3 comments
Every kid looks forward to recess.
But not every kid can play with everyone else.
Traditional playground design typically separates able-bodied kids from those with special needs.
Those divisions are slowly ending in Northern Utah.
The Weber School District is using donations and grants to build new all-abilities playgrounds at Roy, North Ogden and Uintah elementary schools, along with a fourth school selected this fall.
That doubles the number of district all-abilities playgrounds.
Building an inclusive playground isn’t cheap — Weber School Foundation Executive Director Chris Zimmerman estimates the cost at roughly $100,000 apiece.
Resurfacing and ramps takes about half the investment, with the rest going toward new equipment.
What kind of equipment? Slides with ramps, two-person swings and merry-go-rounds that can hold wheelchairs, for instance.
“Where we take for granted a slide with a ladder going up to it, they have a slide with a ramp on it so everyone can use it,” Zimmerman told Anna Burleson, a reporter for the Standard-Examiner.
And that’s the point — every kid deserves a chance to play with everyone else.
North Park Elementary is one of four schools in the district with an all-abilities playground. The others are Green Acres, H. Guy Child and Plain City.
“For the special-needs kids, they feel like they're part of the school and they're able to play with the others,” said North Park Principal Riko Reese.
The Weber School Foundation and its Christmas Tree Jubilees raised about $1 million to build all-abilities playgrounds over the last three and a half years.
Money for the four new playgrounds also comes from the James E. and Norma A. Kier Charitable Foundation, the Stewart Education Foundation, Rich and Kathy Peterson, John E. Lindquist, and George and Mary Hall.
A Weber County RAMP grant, generated by sales tax receipts, will help pay for the new playground equipment. RAMP supports recreation, arts, museums and parks initiatives.
The Ogden School District used a gift from the Weber School Foundation to help build an all-abilities playground at New Bridge Elementary School in 2016. And on 2015, the district resurfaced the playground at Taylor Canyon Elementary School and added ramps.
Ken Crawford, a district official, told Burleson the school system wants all its playgrounds to meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.
That day can’t come soon enough. Because no child should feel left out at school, especially during recess.
Thanks to those making life better for our children.
All our children.
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