McLaurin Elementary unveils new inclusive playground equipment
By: William Mingus, III
The sounds of gleeful children at play filled the air Friday morning at McLaurin Elementary School as Florence 1 Schools unveiled new inclusive playground equipment. The adaptive playground equipment falls in line with Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley’s vision for Florence 1 Schools, which includes implementing national best practices in special education. The Sway Fun Glider features two benches for children to sit on, room for two wheelchairs and a table with handholds. A wheelchair ramp leads up to the equipment for easy access for wheelchairs.
Brian Denny, Director of Programs for Exceptional Children, said that play is an important part of learning and that by adding inclusive playground equipment more students can participate at recess and free-play times. “Students learn through playing,” Denny said. “With the adaptive equipment, children of all types of abilities can play together. Going forward, we will be including this type of playground equipment at all of our new schools; we will also be adding pieces to existing schools like McLaurin.” The equipment arrived during Christmas break. Unfortunately, due to weather, installation of the new equipment was delayed. It took about a month to install.
Debbie Cribb, the Principle of McLaurin Elementary, is excited that all students can enjoy the new equipment. “We have not been able to have a situation where all of our students have been able to come outside and play,” Cribb said. “Now we have a piece of equipment that everybody will be able to play on together. We are so excited, and we want to thank Mr. Denny and his department for helping us get this.”
Dr. Richard O’Malley said that this unveiling was an important step for the district. “The theme of what we’re trying to do is including all of our students and giving everyone an opportunity, whether it is on the playground or in the classroom; anywhere that we have a chance. I am so happy to see all of these smiling faces.” Dr. O’Malley thanked the board of trustees, including Davy Gregg and John Galloway, who were present at the unveiling saying that it was because of their leadership that things like this can happen.
Plans are already in the works for this new equipment to be installed at Carver Elementary and Theodore Lester Elementary.