Seymour Community School Corp. finishes inclusive playground projects


If you ask an elementary school student what their favorite part of the school day is, recess is likely the response you’ll get.

But playing outside on the playground is more important than just letting kids run off their energy.

Knowing play is an integral and vital part of all children’s physical, mental and social development and well-being, Seymour Community School Corp. has invested in new playground equipment at three of its elementary schools.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

The new features at Margaret R. Brown Elementary, Seymour-Redding Elementary and Seymour-Jackson Elementary not only foster play but allow children of all abilities to play together.

“Play is still a scientifically supported piece of the school experience,” Brown Principal Tony Hack said. “Students’ imaginations are stimulated by play, and new interactive pieces enhance the students’ abilities within the classroom when recess is over.”

Getting a complete overhaul, Brown’s playground was finished over winter break in December. The other two were delayed because of weather and still are waiting for some finishing touches.

The corporation paid for the playgrounds with money from previous bond issues from 2017 and 2019, which totaled $675,000 or $225,000 per school.

Redding Principal Steve Bush said the expense was well worth it.

“The joy we see on our kids’ faces says it all,” he said. “The new additions are being used by all students, and each student seems to have their own perspective on which piece of equipment is the best, which further proves that the entire project has been a home run.”

Creating and promoting an inclusive playground environment was one of the main goals behind the projects. Another was improving safety.

The new pieces of equipment, which include adaptive swings, an accessible whirl feature, musical components and shade sails, focus on sensory and communication needs, socialization, mobility access and overall inclusivity.

“Not only does it address our growing population, but it allows for us to offer more options for inclusive play for children with physical disabilities,” Hack said.

The upgrades also include a poured-in-place rubber surfacing around portions of the playgrounds, making them more durable and safer than mulch and allowing for better access for students in wheelchairs.

“Technology and safety features are constantly improving in our world, and our playground is impacted positively just like anything else,” Hack said. “The materials are more stable and create a more enjoyable experience. The PIP surface of the new area is a perfect example of this technology in action.”

Just walking around on the surface itself is fun for kids, Bush added.

“It has a certain flex to it that sort of gives you a trampoline or bounce house effect while moving from location to location,” he said.

The new surface and equipment also provide zero entry play, he added.

Bush said everyone from students to teachers and staff to parents is excited about the universally accessible playground equipment.

“Redding is home to a variety of special needs programs for the corporation, and we are thrilled to have the support from our administration and school board to make these upgrades happen for our kids,” he said.

With COVID-19 concerns, the schools have had to section off playgrounds into zones to keep classes separated and for better contact tracing.

The new section by far is the most popular zone as the classes rotate through them, Hack said.

Some of the most popular features at Brown are the climbing pieces and the scavenger hunt, which requires students to find different shapes built into the playground.

“Our students have loved the new addition,” Hack said.

At Redding, favorites include the accessible whirl, the unity basket swing, the AeroGlider and the cozy cocoon, which students refer to as Baby Yoda’s pod from the popular Disney+ series “The Mandalorian.”

“Sensory, tactile and auditory freestanding pieces have also been a big hit,” Bush said. “With the recent break in the weather, the new playground is getting a ton of good use.”

Karlee Brewer, a fourth-grader at Redding, loves the new equipment because it’s handicap accessible.

“I like the bumper car and tire swing the best,” she said.

Her sister, Kacee Brewer, is in kindergarten and enjoys playing on the bumper car and new slides.

“More of my friends can play and ride together and not have to wait,” she said

Construction of Redding and Jackson’s new playground features is nearly finished.

“We have a small area which encompasses our swings which still needs to have a surface installed. Other than that, we just have some cosmetic work to complete in the spring when we are able to get new mulch delivered,” Bush said.

Michael Neal Jr., a fourth-grader at Redding, also loves the new playground with his favorite features being the merry-go-round or roundabout.

“It’s the best thing on the playground,” he said. “I never get tired of it.”

Second-grader Trevor Newcomb can’t pick a favorite feature because he likes the whole thing, he said.

“It’s so much fun, and I love being outside,” he said.

The playgrounds may be on school grounds and accessible to only students during school hours, but they are open for community use on the weekends and after school hours.

“We value our place within the community, and the playground at Brown is almost like another park for Seymour families to enjoy,” Hack said.

Corporation Business Manager Steve Nauman said the playground updates and expansions will be ongoing in the future as money is available and needs arise.

“We want to give our kids and the community the best and safest equipment, so you can expect our playgrounds to get bigger and better,” he said.

No posts to display