BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Areas that allow children of every ability to enjoy the great outdoors will soon be added to the elementary schools in the Maumee school district.
Assistant Superintend Dr. Steve Lee announced at the March 22 school board meeting that the district will invest $100,000 to install inclusive playgrounds at Fairfield, Fort Miami and Wayne Trail Elementary schools. The play areas will allow the school to meet the needs of all students, including the district’s unique learners.
“In talking about our playgrounds, we realized that there is room for improvement there to meet the needs of all of our students better,” Lee said.
To support that investment, $50,000 will be paid from the permanent improvement fund and $50,000 will be paid from a JLW grant, which is a privately funded donation to the district.
The new play areas will allow all children to take part in outdoor activities by including a surface made of rubberized mulch, which is different from the mulch used at the current playgrounds. The new surface will allow easier access for those with mobility challenges. New equipment will also focus on meeting sensory needs, Lee said.
“We are working with a playground installer and building staff to identify the needs of our students to design equipment around them. Some of the things we are looking at will have more ground-level options,” Lee said.
Equipment that is not focused on traditional large or gross motor skills, such as those needed for the monkey bars, climbing and swinging, will be implemented.
“There are options that are music-related, which is auditory as well as tactile and sensory,” Lee said.
The inclusive playgrounds will not replace the current playgrounds but will instead enhance them. Lee is hopeful that the new equipment will be installed by next fall, although he acknowledged that is an ambitious goal.
“This will put kids together that might not typically access the equipment together – so another benefit is greater socialization for all students,” Lee said.