FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Playgrounds are a place where kids can be kids. Now students of all abilities at McLaurin Elementary have that opportunity with new adaptive playground equipment worth $50,000.
The school’s principal and Florence School District One officials revealed the new piece of playground equipment called Sway Fun on Friday morning to special needs students, parents, other students and teachers.
"Our kids, just because they’re in a wheelchair or they can’t talk it doesn’t mean they’re not kids,” said mother, Ericka Chapman. “They like to play, they like to swing and they like to rock just like any other kid.”
Added to the school’s current playground, the new swing welcomes all types of students and even adults.
After a short unveiling, students and teachers got a chance to try it out for the first time. The equipment requires students to work together rocking back and forth to get it going.
“It’s safe for the students in wheel chairs and it requires a lot of group effort to get it going, which is great because that means everybody’s going to be playing together,” Brian Denny, Director of Programs for Exceptional Children, said.
Chapman said even though her daughter has cerebral palsy and is considered non-verbal, she loves being around other kids.
“She gets so excited when they will speak to her and pay attention to her and this provides more opportunities in a neutral fun setting for these other children to get to know her,” she said.
Denny said the district is also working to improve special education inside the schools.
"We’re trying to make sure they’re included in the general education classroom and they’re not pulled out for everything,” he said.
Denny added the new playground equipment and other efforts are a start for the district as it works to make special education a priority.
“Every child has those same needs and wants whether they’re special needs or not so what we don’t want to do is separate them and make them feel like well I can’t go there and I can’t do that because I’m in a wheelchair or because I have a special need,” Denny said. "No, you can do anything anybody else can do and we just want to make sure we’re giving them that opportunity to do that.”