The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

Inclusion of new playground equipment at Lincoln School means inclusion of students with special needs

Photo by Casey Isser
A new piece of playground equipment introduced to Lincoln School as part of a plan to make the playground more inclusive for kids with special needs.

While it might just seem like playground equipment, woodchips, and open grass space for kids, the newly renovated playground at Lincoln School, now geared towards including children with special needs, signifies something much greater to the Westfield community and those within it who have disabilities. Lincoln parent Staci Aquasanta noted it is a place “where limitation ceases to exist.”

Last week, members of the community gathered at Lincoln School for the Project Playground ribbon cutting ceremony, featuring performances by WHS musicians and speeches from community leaders. This event marked the completion of months of work towards making the playground more accessible.

The story of these improvements begins with Project Playground Steering Committee member Erica Witte. Witte told the crowd, “The first time we stood on this playground, it felt very different. There was no accessible equipment.” She continued, “When you think about it, playgrounds are where kids learn, where they thrive, where they build friendships. I thought about other kids who need a little extra help and it kind of broke my heart.” This prompted her to reach out to Lincoln parent Laura Skidmore and this collaboration set in motion the process of making the playground more accessible.

The upgrades to the playground, involving the addition of six pieces of new, accessible equipment, required tireless fundraising efforts. According to Witte, over 200 donors from the community contributed funds to the project and raised over $135,000.

Speaking on the importance of accessibility in playgrounds, Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle said, “It is not just that it’s a playground. It is also about the fact that it is an inclusive playground. Play is important to kids and we have made a big priority to create a more inclusive community for everybody.”

WHS students were also enlisted to help with the project. Senior Jillian Almendral, juniors Sophia Basadula, Mahika Dang, Erica Donohue, and sophomore Kai Patel used their artistic talents to create signage for the playground.

Speaking on what enticed them to take part in the project, Patel said, “I wanted to give back to the community that has given so much to me.” 

This sentiment of wanting to help the community was echoed by other WHS designers like Dang who said, “It really seemed to help the community.”

The project was also a collaboration between Lincoln parents, the Westfield Public School District and the town of Westfield. Westfield Superintendent Dr. Raymond González recognized the importance of using resources on playgrounds, saying, “Play is one way that our children learn how to interact with one another, how to develop relationships, how to solve conflicts, so I think any ability to see our playgrounds as an extension of our school day is an exciting opportunity.”

As the ceremonial ribbon was cut, kids enthusiastically explored their new playground equipment, and parents happily watched knowing that the barrier to having fun during recess was significantly lessened.

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