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Carver Elementary School cuts ribbon on inclusive playground equipment

For students with physical handicaps, recess is too often a time to observe rather than take part. At Carver Elementary Magnet School that is no longer the case. On April 17, school and Florence 1 Schools district officials cut the ribbon on new inclusive playground equipment at the school.

Principal Josie Little said that the inclusive playground equipment movement at Carver started with students.

A student holds a sign that reads Be The Change “We had some first-grade students last year who were in Ms. Munn’s class and they had a vision for the playground and what they would like to see,” Little said. “It took one or two students to get started; it was their Project Based Learning activity. They wanted to know what they could do to assist the other students at our school so we could make sure that we all have the opportunity to play when we are outside. This vision has come to pass.”

Teacher Meagan Johnson said that the day was one she had hoped for, for a long time.

“(The playground) is a place where all children can play, laugh and learn no matter their strengths or weaknesses,” Johnson said. “Year after year I have had students struggle to access the existing equipment or have to sit on the sidelines and watch their friends play. Today, there is no more sitting on the sidelines because all Carver students can play, laugh and learn together.”

People cut a blue ribbon

Johnson introduced two Carver students, Italie McCrimmon and Emma Hunt, who use wheelchairs. The young ladies shared their thanks for the new equipment and told the crowd gathered what they enjoyed about it.

“Thank you for the new playground equipment,” McCrimmon said. “The merry-go-round is my favorite.”

Before Hunt spoke, Johnson explained a little bit about how she would be sharing.

“Emma is non-verbal but that does not mean that Emma does not have plenty to say,” Johnson said. “She actually uses a really cool device called a Tobii Dynavox and she uses her eyes to communicate. A lot of the kids here at Carver have had the chance to talk to her this year with her computer and it is really cool. Yesterday, Emma wrote a story about the playground using her eyes.”

Emma Hunt enjoys the new merry-go-round Johnson then held the microphone up to Hunt’s computer speakers.

“We have a new merry-go-round,” Hunt said. “I can get on it with my chair. It’s fun. I can go fast.”

Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley said that he was thrilled to be able to cut the ribbon on equipment that allows all students to enjoy recess with their friends.

“All of you, starting with the students and then the staff, were so willing to go out of your way to make sure that everyone is included not only in the class but also in recess,” O’Malley said. “That is what today is about. That is what we have been trying to do across the district. Just to let you know, Carver Elementary has really set the standard by which other schools are now trying to include all students, friends, not only in the classroom but also at recess.”

Carver is the second school in F1S to unveil new adaptive playground equipment this school year as part of the district’s push to make Special Education a priority.