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Elementary school gets new inclusive playgrounds

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Shamiyla Hardy, second grader at Wahl-Coates Elementary, slides down the slide at one of the new playgrounds at Wahl-Coates Elementary School on May 14, 2019. (Molly Urbina/The Daily Reflector)

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Children laughed and played together on two brand-new inclusive playgrounds on Tuesday afternoon at Wahl-Coates Elementary School. 

The playgrounds were made possible by donors and grants made possible by teachers, parents and community members who filled out forms and advocated for the equipment. 

“It’s a very important day here at Wahl-Coates,” Principal Marty Baker said. “We are here today to celebrate; we actually have two new playground dedications today.”

The separate play facilities are tailored to children in different grade levels.

“When I came here as principal four years ago, the playground was very old, dated and becoming unsafe,” Baker said. “In fact, we had to dismantle some of it, put up boards here and there to kind of mend it and I was wondering how we were going to raise approximately $40,000 to 50,000 to make (a new playground) happen.”

In addition to being dated, the old playground was not suitable for children with disabilities, he said. Before the new structures were installed, children with special needs had to play in a separate area from other children.

The new inclusive playgrounds are a welcome change, Baker said.

“We have a number of exceptional children on our campus and we really wanted to integrate them into the playgrounds,” he said. “So now we have wheelchair swings and things to make it an inclusive playground around here. So, we’re very excited about that.”

Baker praised the community for coming together to make the project a reality. 

“Through generous donations and countless hours of our teachers’ and parents’ grant writing — and through the contributors of supporters and donors — they surpassed my wildest dreams of ever making this happen,” he said. “I am very humbled today by their generosity as their giving is going to continue to give for generations to come.”

Equally excited about the new structures is Julie Brickhouse who works with children who have disabilities. 

“It’s nice because they can access the same equipment just like anybody else and they’re able to play more together,” Brickhouse said. “It lets them be all together and creates more friendships and understanding and helps all of the children see each other as equals.”

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @Tylerstocks1987

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