A Place of Joy and Play: An All-Inclusive Playground Offers Life-Changing Opportunities
16:00 PM - March 27, 2023
From Serrano Magazine, Spring 2023 issue
Equity is a lens widely used in education that offers opportunities to all, even beyond the walls of a classroom. A great example of this is the goal to transition the playground at Jackson Elementary School into an all-inclusive environment. The current playground already has wheelchair-accessible entrances; however, the bark prohibits individuals who use mobility devices to access it. With upgraded landscaping and equipment, the playground at Jackson has the potential to provide a wealth of opportunities to children and families of differing abilities. Additionally, the Jackson Elementary School campus is always open. Once school concludes for the day, residents will be able to take advantage of the updated playground.
“The vision of this project is to bring the community together to support an all-inclusive playground on behalf of all children so they can socially interact and therefore reduce boundaries between children of varying abilities,” explains Michele Williamson, Principal of Jackson Elementary School. Jim Shoemake, Superintendent of Rescue Union School District is pleased to bring an all-abilities playground to Jackson. “Our schools, fields, and playgrounds serve as a hub for bringing people together. Creating a new space that allows our students and community members with disabilities to have fun, further their development, and feel a true sense of belonging is exciting,” he says.
Williamson, along with many local community members and educators, are proud proponents of this project for the opportunities it presents. “Inclusive playgrounds are intentionally designed to promote awareness and acceptance by allowing interaction between students of all abilities. Inclusive spaces have the potential to bring communities together by celebrating diversity and encouraging inclusion and belonging,” shares Tamara Clay, Executive Director of Special Services at the El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE).
The El Dorado Hills Community Services District (EDHCSD) is a project partner, and Kevin Loewen, general manager at EDHCSD, explains, “By investing in universally designed playgrounds, we are all advancing the right of people who are not typically developing to play freely. These inclusive play environments provide a safe, welcoming atmosphere for kids of all ages and abilities to come together, have fun, build genuine relationships, encourage meaningful play, and foster a sense of belonging.”
The playground site is in place, and next steps include design finalization and the gathering of funds. At EDCOE, we are proud to support this project and look forward to its completion. Together, as a community, we can support this important resource that offers developmental opportunities to all.