McLaurin Elementary School unveils inclusive playground equipment
FLORENCE, SC--- Squeals and laughter were bountiful Friday, February 8, as children at McLaurin Elementary School played on a piece of newly installed inclusive playground equipment.
Principal Debbie Cribb said that the equipment, which allows children in wheelchairs as well as those who are not in wheelchairs to play together, is a welcome and much needed addition to her playground.
“We have not been able to have a situation where all of our students have been able to come outside and play,” Cribb said. “Now we have a piece of equipment that everybody will be able to play on together. We are so excited and we want to thank Mr. Denny and his department for helping us get this.”
The Sway Fun Glider features two benches for children to sit on, room for two wheelchairs and a table with handholds. A wheelchair ramp leads up to the equipment for easy access for wheelchairs. A rubber play surface was laid under the glider, which cost around $50,000.
Brian Denny, Director of Programs for Exceptional Children, said that he was thrilled to see the new equipment finally in place.
“This has been a long time coming for these students,” Denny said. “These students belong here, they belong with everyone else, and they need to have the same opportunities. This is, really, the first step in that process; we’ve already talked about some of the other things that we want to do here. This is truly what inclusion looks like. It is not seeing kids across the hall; it is them being together, playing together and interacting at times like recess.
After the brief remarks students took turns playing on the glider which sways using momentum from riders on both sides, similar to how a seesaw moves except that it goes side-to-side rather than up and down.
Florence 1 Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley said that this unveiling was an important step for the district.
“This is just one of the three that we’ll install this year throughout our district,” O’Malley said. “The theme of what we’re trying to do is including all of our students and giving everyone an opportunity,
whether it is on the playground or in the classroom; anywhere that we have a chance. I am so happy to see all of these smiling faces.”
O’Malley thank the Board of Trustees, including Davy Gregg and John Galloway who were present at the unveiling, saying that it was because of their leadership that things like this are able to happen.
Cribb thanked her teachers who she said have always worked hard to make sure that all of McLaurin’s students felt like they are important.
“I want to thank Ms. Bevill and the other teachers who have put forth so much effort with these kids,” Cribb said. “This is the first step on the playground but this is not the first step at McLaurin making sure that these kids feel like they are a part of our school. They are an important part of our school. We love these kids.”