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Winskill Elementary School students celebrated a ribbon cutting for their inclusive playground in September.
Winskill’s inclusive playground dedicated
By Robert Callahan
Lancaster Community Schools celebrated the addition of inclusive playground equipment when the
2017-2018 school year began.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held near Winskill Elementary School’s Kids Courtyard on Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 5. Winskill Elementary School students and staff attended, joining members of the Lancaster Community Fund Advisory Board and Lancaster Mayor David Varnam.
Joe Krantz is a member of the Advisory Board. The night before the ribbon cutting, his son asked him what “united” meant.
“When everyone comes together as one,” Krantz told Winskill students prior to the ribbon cutting. “A perfect example is today, when all of you are united as one. We have the inclusivity with this playground and together all of you will be able to play together now.”
Winskill Elementary second grade teacher Melissa Sperle explained to students what a ribbon cutting ceremony was.
“It symbolizes that this playground is now ours,” she said. “It is a playground for all, for everybody to play side-by-side together, which is what it should be all about.”
Discussion of an inclusive playground began a few years ago.
“We had talked about just making the playground more inclusive for a while. We do a 5K every year, so I think it was three years ago we talked with the kids about trying to raise money to make our playground more inclusive,” Sperle said. “That is kind of how it started. We ended up raising I think it was about $5,000 or so.”
The Lancaster Community Fund supported the playground effort through grants. Approximately $60,000 was raised through grants, the 5K fundraiser and pizza sales.
“It was between the Friends of Winskill and the Community Fund and basically our kids. Our kids are the ones that sell the pizzas,” Sperle said. “Our kids really had a huge part and they are the ones that raise the money for the 5K. It really was a combination effort of our kids and the Lancaster Community Fund. It was awesome.
“When the Community Fund agreed to the grant I remember I am pretty sure I cried.”
Sperle credited Lancaster Community Schools Maintenance Supervisor Dan Yoose for his assistance on the project.
“Dan Yoose was a huge help. Dan Yoose was the one that knew what we needed to do to prepare the site, what we needed to tell the people when they come to set it up, etcetera,” she said. “Without Dan Yoose, there is no way the project would have happened.”
Sperle said the playground has earned rave reviews to date.
“The kids love it. It is really cool to see all of the kids playing together,” she said. “You don’t have to be in a wheelchair to enjoy it, but you could be in a wheelchair and enjoy it. It is not just a playground for our kids with special needs, it is for everybody. That is the one area of our playground every kid can enjoy.”
It only makes sense an inclusive playground was truly a community effort.
“Everybody that I ever talked to made it work. Everybody believed it was something not just our school, but our community, needed,” Sperle said. “We look around our school and community, and there are a lot of kids with special needs in our community. You take for granted being able to push your children on a swing. What parents shouldn’t get to push their child on a swing or play with them in a park? That is something so many of us take for granted until you have a child that can’t do that.”
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