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By John Coffelt
Manchester City Schools have recently been awarded a state grant totaling over $87,000 to be used to build playgrounds at College Street and Westwood Elementary Schools for pre-k students to allow access by children with disabilities.
“The purpose of this grant was to make our pre-k playground ADA [Ameri-cans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which sets guide-lines for handicapped ac-cessibility] approved, so that our kids in wheelchairs and those in the autism spectrum, who are finicky about play anyway, have access to play areas,” said Anita Brewer, Director of Special Educa-tion/Preschools.
The project combines $23,000 of leftover funds from the Volunteer Pre-k Funds with grant money to make $100,796 in im-provements to the two schools’ playgrounds.
Equipment, fencing and sidewalks are planned to be installed in early August by the Miracle Recreation Equipment Company of Clarkston, Ky.
“We’re having some rubber bonding put down for surfacing, so that the wheelchairs or teachers transporting children in a stroller can easily get them to that play area,” she said.
Included in the plan is a “track” area at College Street for the students to play on riding toys.
“A lot of our children didn’t have access to play. So we’re having some sidewalks poured.”
Brewer said that of all of the grants for more money that she has written, this grant is the one she is most proud.
The equipment is to be ADA certified. One piece of equipment, a merry-go-round of sorts, is designed with panels that will sup-port children who cannot set up on their own.
Brewer said due to funding restrictions the swings were initially pulled from the Westwood design.
“[The teachers] begged for those swings. I had the company comeback one more time, and we have squeezed in some swings on our pre-k playground.”
College street, with the most ad hoc pre-k equipment, will be begun first. The instillation is supposed to take five days.
“I cannot wait to see our kids with disabilities and our Typical Peers playing along side one another.”