McConnell Elementary Partners With Playcore To Build New Inclusive Playground

Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Old playground
Old playground

Six-year-old Paige Collins loves everything about coming to school, but she especially loves seeing her friends every day. Paige can often be seen in the hallways, classrooms, and cafeteria at McConnell Elementary School surrounded by her friends, who think she is “funny, sweet, smart, and cool.” But when she goes to recess with her class, everything changes. “I can’t play, so I just watch,” she says. Paige has a physical disability and is not able to access the playground equipment at McConnell, most of which is out of date, broken beyond repair, and does not meet current safety standards. “We usually just walk around or play ball,” one student says, “because a lot of the stuff is broken anyway.”

Children who learn together learn to live together. McConnell Elementary School has always been dedicated to celebrating the similarities and differences that make us a community. This year, the school is undertaking a project that will allow it to take curriculum outside the walls and create inclusive opportunities for social and academic development in children of all abilities. McConnell is partnering with Playcore to build an inclusive playground that will allow children of all abilities to learn and play together in a fully accessible and developmentally appropriate play space.

“Playcore is a leader in creating universally designed play environments that increase the 'playability' for people of diverse abilities, age, race, gender, ethnicity, culture, and socioeconomic status.  Designing inclusive play environments that meet the seven Principles of Inclusive Playground Design is a critical first step in providing the foundation for inclusive play to occur. Taking inclusive play to the next level by educating children about similarities and differences supports character education initiatives while further ensuring meaningful play for children of all abilities outdoors.” (Playcore.com)

“Inclusive playgrounds make a fundamental statement about a community’s social values and belief in every child’s right to play. They provide active and meaningful experiences that recognize the strengths, individuality, dignity, and abilities of people of all ages and abilities. Inclusive playgrounds encourage equal play opportunities, full participation in play, and promote independence. The social and physical inclusion of caregivers who have disabilities is also addressed when these individuals can supervise & participate in play." (Casey, 2005. Inclusive Play)

Research shows that providing inclusive play opportunities for children of all abilities supports social skills, healthy physical development, and academic skills. These opportunities allow teachers to teach to the whole child by promoting physical, sensory, cognitive, social, and communication development.

But this project is more than building a playground. It’s even more than building a playground for students with disabilities. It is about growing a culture of acceptance and inclusion of every child as a part of the community of learners.  It is about the opportunity to teach all of our children the value of every individual. McConnell’s future leaders, the future leaders of the community, will learn that people of all abilities have interests, abilities and challenges. They will learn that people are more alike than different, and that all kids like to play and have fun, that all kids can learn, they just may do it differently.

This project is about taking curriculum outside our walls to create exciting and enriching learning opportunities for all kinds of learners. School officials are excited about the opportunity to give all of the students a fun and developmentally appropriate play space where every member of the community can play, learn and grow together.

The Hixson community has already shown McConnell Elementary School a tremendous amount of support through monetary contributions, donated time from construction companies, contractors, and volunteer grant writers. McConnell has secured approximately $48,000 of the roughly $91,000 cost with the help of Playcore, volunteer committee members, the Public Education Foundation, individual donations from parents and community members, PMI Chattanooga, the Lakesite community, the Hixson Kiwanis Club, The Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, Hamilton County Commissioner Marty Haynes, District 3 School Board representative Dr. Greg Martin, and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

For anyone interested in helping build the playground, there are many ways to help. Make a donation to McConnell Elementary School’s playground fund. Buy a commemorative brick for the walkway to the playground in honor of a current or past McConnell student or a loved one. Sign up to volunteer with the community build. 

Officials said, "Let us know if you have talents to share that could help with the project. Contact Amy Thomson at thomson_a@hcde.org for more information on how you can help McConnell build an inclusive playground for children of all abilities that becomes a destination play environment for the community."


Cleveland State To Present 'The Anonymous People'

Cleveland State Community College will present “The Anonymous People” film and panel discussion on Thursday, Oct. 16 at 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the George R. Johnson Cultural Heritage Center Theater. “The Anonymous People” is a feature documentary film about the over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Representatives ... (click for more)

Lee's Rumschlag Participates In Archaeology Projects

Lee University senior Sam Rumschlag is a few months shy of obtaining his bachelor’s degree in anthropology, yet he spent his summer brushing the dirt from ancient artifacts in Mongolia and Italy alongside world-class archaeologists from premier universities. “The anthropology faculty at Lee University feels that Sam has had excellent preparation to go to the next level of archaeology ... (click for more)

Witnesses In 17-Year-Old Murder Case Say They Saw Hollingsworth Threaten, Mistreat Wife

Two potential witnesses in a 17-year-old murder testified Monday that they saw Adolphus Lebron Hollingsworth threaten and mistreat his wife Vicky before she disappeared in 1997. Hollingsworth, who is under $200,000 bond, is set for trial on Nov. 4. Orville Hughes said he lived around the corner from Vicky when he was on Chamberlain Avenue and they were on Duncan Avenue. ... (click for more)

Family Makes Treasure Trove Of Early Chattanooga Photographs Available For Book; Stokes Collection Has Been Passed Down To Descendants

A treasure trove of Chattanooga photographs that have been passed down in the Stokes family for generations has now been assembled in an upcoming book. Chattanooga Around The Turn Of The Century: The Remarkable Stokes Collection will be published by Chattanoogan.com. Pre-orders are now being taken for the book, which includes over 700 photos on large-size pages. Publisher ... (click for more)

How To Reform The City Industrial Development Board - And Response (3)

My aims is to bring to the public’s attention the need for procedural changes that, if implemented, would significantly improve the information available the public, to the City Council and to the City Industrial Development Board about the verifiable benefits and costs of tax incentive financing structures and to make the entire process transparent. The public, the City ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: He Can Never Go Home

When Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston sparked top-ranked Florida State to a 56-41 comeback over N.C. State last Saturday, you would have thought the world had forgotten and virtually excused his vulgar rant from the week before. His inexcusable mid-week antics kept him sidelined during the Clemson game and brought down the nation’s scorn but less than a week later he was ... (click for more)