Jacksonville elementary school holds fundraiser for accessible playground

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. – Tonight, Jacksonville Elementary School put on a community fundraiser to renovate the playground to update the facility and make it more accessible to the kindergarten and special education students who need it the most.

After the final bell on Friday, the real work began. Over the past school year, the school has been working to raise money to renovate their playground.

“Basically it’s not all inclusive so we have students that are in wheelchairs and impacted with physical disabilities and so the equipment isn’t appropriate for their ability,” Principal, Fred Kondziela said. “We want a playground that’s going to meet the needs of every single student.”

Kerry Brooks is a maps program teacher, she sees first hand the need for an updated playground. The current play area is about 25 years old so plans for a new one will not only make the structures safer but will also include features that are specifically designed for students with disabilities.

“We are going to be getting an accessible swing for students that will be able to support their bodies and be safe,” Brooks said. “We’re going to have some sensory things as well that they’ll be able to access and play with and that will help with their sensory needs as well.”

The question, how to pay for it? For starters, with pasta. The parent-teacher organization put on a spaghetti dinner and auction Friday, to raise funds to update the playground so all students will soon be able to play and feel included.

“When kids have an imaginative play space that’s safe and developmentally appropriate, they have opportunities to be creative and creative problem solvers are what we need in our future.”

Brooks said she’s happy to see that not just parents, but the community is rallying around this cause.

“It warms my heart and makes me so happy that there’s a community that embraces these kids and wants to include them in the education system, and the school community and the community around Jacksonville,” Brooks said.

At tonight’s fundraiser, the school raised over $11,500. Their goal is $80,000.

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