Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Allowing all students to play together
School in midst of fundraising to build inclusive playground
Seven-year-old Tyler loves to participate in classroom activities, but when his friends enjoy the school’s playground at recess, Tyler can only watch.
That’s because the wooden play structure at Windsor School in St. Vital is not accessible to Tyler, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair.
"It’s got pea gravel all around it," said Tyler’s mom, Jackie Hanna, who explained the tiny pebbles make it difficult for her son to maneuver his wheelchair. "And the platforms aren’t ramped."
Even if the surface were improved and ramps added, Hanna said, the structure is surrounded by elevated wood beams, meaning Tyler’s wheelchair would have to be lifted over the barrier.
"Tyler loves to be involved in everything," Hanna said. "When it’s not accessible, he has to sit back and watch."
Windsor School is looking to change that, with a fundraising initiative to purchase a new, inclusive play structure.
The project is being led by the Windsor Home and School Association, which includes both parent and teacher representatives.
Lori Banman, vice-president of the association, said while the wooden play structure is old —and would have been in need of replacement in the near future — the issue of inclusion has inspired the community to act now.
"This was our main concern — that all students in the school could play together," she said.
Banman said the association has been fundraising for two years, and has raised more than $8,000 towards the $150,000 goal.
The city recently agreed to provide a $25,000 grant for the project, while Banman said the association expects to hear back about other grant applications in May.
If all goes according to plan, she said, the new playground would be ready for kids by fall.
The beams would be removed and the surface would be a replaced with loose wood fibres that would pack down and become firm over a couple of months, making it wheelchair accessible.
The structure itself would also have a number of areas where a child with mobility or sensory challenges could play.
Windsor principal Ann Walker said the playground project fits with the school’s established values.
"Inclusion is very important in our school, and this will mirror what our beliefs are," Walker said, adding, "This play structure promotes student well-being."
Hanna, who has been hands-on in planning the new playground, said an inclusive structure will be a good lesson for all students at the school.
"For kids who don’t have disability, (they) learn all people are equal in their own way," she said.
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(1 of 11 articles for this week)05/22/2013 1:00 AM 0
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