Adaptive playground means fun for all students
Thanks to the Yavapai County Community Foundation's donation of $55,000, Mountain View Elementary School has a new adaptive playground for its students with special needs.
The inclusive playground allows about 85 students with different abilities to play outside on safe equipment.
Construction began in August, but wet weather caused some delays. Workers await the arrival of the wheelchair accessible swing set, and will finish with the rubberized surface and fencing by the end of the month.
Mountain View sixth-graders volunteer during their lunch recess to help students with special needs in the Buddy program in the gym for adaptive PE. This will continue on the new playground, said Joann Hayden, resource teacher, who was instrumental in getting the grant.
"I heard a blurb on NPR (National Public Radio) last year about the trend toward inclusive playgrounds where all students can participate in playing outside," she said. "I thought, 'Why can't we have something like that?'"
She met with Dr. Paul Stanton, superintendent of the Humboldt Unified School District, who liked the idea, but pointed out there was no money for such a playground.
Hayden mentioned her idea to Susan Reynolds, a paraprofessional in the special education classroom who spoke with her husband, Steve Reynolds - whom Hayden calls "our angel who helped made this dream come true" - and he put Hayden in touch with the Yavapai County Community Foundation.
"These students with physical, cognitive, chronic health impairments, and/or social and emotional obstacles deserve an inclusive outdoor play environment in which they can develop motor skills, exercise safely, and most importantly, make new friends through special play experiences," Hayden said.
Playground equipment includes the swing set, a roller table where students can pull themselves through using upper body strength, an Omni-Spin (merry-go-round) with high back seats and sides, and other sensory activity apparatus.
"We hope to get a table and chairs, benches, and a shed in the future," Hayden said.
The Mountain View campus includes district elementary students with the most severe disabilities. In the past, outside play for some of these students was limited to being pushed in their wheelchairs around the perimeter of the school playground.
HUSD maintenance personnel have completed much of the work. The school's Student Council and the Parent-Teacher Organization, and the Prescott Valley Church of the Nazarene, which adopted the school, contributed to materials.
Hayden said the school accepts tax credit donations, and the community can earmark their tax credit dollars specifically for the adaptive playground.