After a ribbon-cutting by children, teachers, city leaders, and supporters, a “boundless playground” at North Elementary School in Lansing, Michigan, opened on November 5. As the ribbon fell, a row of children in wheelchairs led the way by hundreds of kids toward the new playground, which is the second major success in the Kellogg Foundation’s statewide Able to Play Project.
The playground includes a special rubber surface and strategically placed ramps that make it easy for a child in a wheelchair to access the entire area. The total cost of equipment and donated services was about $250,000. North School serves more than 500 students, including those with special needs.
“It’s the play all children need to experience,” said Rena Baxter, an occupational therapist at North School who coordinated the project. “It’s huge that [all our students] are going to see that a kid in a wheelchair can play and get in the mix with them.”
Baxter says the school’s former playground kept children from playing together because it wasn’t accessible to all. At North School, $75,000 in Kellogg Foundation funds were granted to the project, and the community raised twice that much in financial and in-kind donations. Partners include the Rotary Club, Lansing School District, Parent Teacher Association, Dean Transportation, United Auto Workers Union Local, and many others.
The first Able to Play project opened in October as the “Tiger Paw Park Playground” in Hillman. That effort was led by the Hillman Community Education Foundation. Up to 18 additional communities will open playgrounds between now and the end of 2005, which is the Kellogg Foundation’s 75th Anniversary.