Students in Germantown Hills, Illinois will soon have access to wheelchair-accessible playground equipment purchased with funds from a THF grant.
Michelle DuBois, special education administrator with the Woodford County Special Education Association (WCSEA), applied for the grant to ensure all students could enjoy the outdoor space at Germantown Hills School District. The district includes elementary and middle school level WCSEA SkillBuilders classrooms, which provide individualized instruction for students with unique needs.
"Germantown Hills now has five students in our SkillBuilders program and one in the district who utilize wheelchairs for mobility," DuBois said. "However, our playground does not provide adaptive equipment for those children to enjoy recess in a similar fashion as their peers."
DuBois plans to purchase adaptable swings to give students in wheelchairs another option during their time outdoors during the school day.
"As a special education teacher in the district for 20 years before moving into an administrative role, I had also longed for more outdoor activities for those students in wheelchairs," she said. "Students were always willing to push their friends in chairs during recess but there aren't many other options than a walk or enjoying sitting in the fresh air. Our population of students who need more options for playground activities has grown and parents and teachers have both indicated an interest in seeing more adaptive playground equipment available for students."
An added benefit to adding the wheelchair friendly equipment is that it can be enjoyed by more than just the student population at Germantown Hills schools.
"The most advantageous part of making a school playground accessible is that it doesn't only benefit the students at the school but benefits the community, she added. "School playgrounds are not only utilized by students at the school but families in the community as well as families who may visit the school for sports activities or travel sports. This is a much-needed upgrade in order to ensure our playground is accessible to all"