Play For All: All-Inclusive Playground
Western Primary School’s All-Inclusive Playground, a Year Later
Tricia Harlow, a physical education teacher at Western Primary School in Russiaville, is witnessing her two-year dream become a reality with the addition of the school’s all-inclusive playground.
Thanks to contributions from individuals and community groups, plus donations of time and equipment from area businesses, an all-inclusive playground is being constructed on the school’s grounds. Accessible to every student, the play space fills a need for special-needs children who take buses to the school through the Kokomo Area Special Education Cooperative.
After considering the possibility of building an adaptive, fenced-in playground space for quite some time, Harlow approached her school’s leadership with the idea in 2018. Administrators told her they liked the idea but no funds were available. Undeterred, Harlow set a major fundraising campaign into motion to raise the resources required for the project.
It was determined that around $250,000 would be needed for equipment, labor and materials to complete the playground. By the summer of 2019, $72,000 had been raised through various fundraisers and contributions from community businesses. The push for funds continued and by late June of this year, enough was raised for playground construction company PlayPros to make initial preparations for the space. On July 1, Davidson Excavating broke ground.
“We purchased the equipment through PlayPros, but they’re donating all of their time, labor and installation,” Harlow says. “Davidson Excavating did all of the ground work, hauling the gravel and gravel compaction, all pro bono. This was close to an $18,000 savings. All of the equipment is already in the ground and ready to go. The fence posts have to be installed first before pouring the surface.”
Janet Cline, a primary K-2 title aide at Western School Corporation, says contributions from individuals and community organizations account for 64% of the funds raised for the project.
“About 27% of the money came from grants such as the Duke Foundation,” Cline says. “I would say we got over the hump with an Indiana Department of Environmental Management grant, along with contributions from Western School Corporation and Davidson Excavating, who donated their time, equipment and materials.”
The playground was designed for students of all abilities to enjoy cooperative play. The area features a unique swing, where two friends can face each other and just one set of legs is needed to do the pumping. There is a “we-saw” with a ramp that allows a child in a wheelchair to enter and be strapped in. A large hill features a traditional slide with no ladder, as well as a roller slide.
“We have a jungle gym that’s just awesome,” Harlow says. “There’s a ropes course, monkey bars, fire pole, spinners, a bridge, slides, and all kinds of activity boards. We have one little guy in particular that I think will love this space. He is in a wheelchair for the most part. He’s never been able to go down a slide because of the ladder limiting him.”
Harlow adds that the local community has rallied around the project.
“Many people, businesses and churches supported our fundraising efforts while others created their own,” Harlow says. “Janet was a godsend. She was able to get around $67,000 in grants. Davidson Excavating along with Justin Moos and his guys from PlayPros have been amazing. We couldn’t have done it without their generosity.”
To learn more, go to facebook.com/pg/PlaygroundWPS.