North Haven school opens ‘truly inclusive playground’

May 13, 2019
News North Haven Ridge Road Elementary School Playground M 2019

NORTH HAVEN — Children at Ridge Road Elementary School couldn’t wait to get on the school’s new playground, as now everyone can participate.

The school this week celebrated the completion of its all-inclusive playground, made possible through donations from Quinnipiac University along with a host of other people and companies.

The school’s old playground wasn’t accessible to students who use wheelchairs and it wasn’t friendly to students who are on the spectrum of having autism or other special needs. But the new one was designed with every student in mind.

“This started two years ago when we learned not all kids could play together on the playground,” Ridge Road PTA Vice President Christina Montanari said. “We thought even if one child isn’t able to play together, that’s one too many.”

“This was a remarkable concept that the Ridge Road PTA brought to me and today the vision has become reality,” Freda said.

Quinnipiac donated approximately $200,000 to the school project last year as part of the university’s voluntary payment to the town. Quinnipiac President Judy Olian said supporting community project such as the playground is exactly what an element of the school’s strategic plan is about.

“We’re incredibly committed to the communities we live in and we want them to be lifted by what we can do and resources we can provide,” Olian said. As the leader of an educational institution, Olian said the university recognizes how important play is for children’s learning.

“This is the seed of what kids become later,” she said.

Freda said Quinnipiac has been “an outstanding partner” for the town in general and on the playground project.

PTA member Erin Lamb’s son Isaiah, who uses a wheelchair, wasn’t able to get to the old playground where his friends were playing, but the pathways leading to the new playground allow him to get there independently, she said.

The playground features ramps to almost all the areas of the structure so Isaiah can be on the playground with his friends and includes ground level ride-ons.

“This gives him the opportunity to be included with his friends,” Lamb said. “Because he couldn’t get to the old playground, he was limited with what he could do with his friends. His classmates are always inclusive of him, but there were things he couldn’t do outside the classroom with them. This gives him self-worth and makes him part of the class inside and outside.”

In addition to accommodating kids with physical limitations, the playground accommodates children with social or sensory special needs who might find a loud, fast play area intimidating. The playground includes tactile pieces, quiet seating areas, musical instruments and a freestanding rocking element for motion play that all accommodate children with different needs.

The Ridge Road staff and families raised $20,000 and the remaining $58,000 was pulled together from Calare Properties; Rotary International; Fantarella Dental Group; GT Landscaping & Excavation LLC; North Haven Education Foundation; and Brescome Barton Inc.

Design and installation for the project was done by Milone & MacBroom; Creative Recreation; GT Landscaping & Excavation LLC; and the Public Works Departments of the town and Board of Education.

Read the original article here.

(c) New Haven Register, 2019