Rose Park Elementary launches inclusive playground project, article by Sierra Hentges

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Model of the proposed all-inclusive playground. Photo courtesy of EveryChildPlaysBillings.org.

Model of the proposed all-inclusive playground. Photo courtesy of EveryChildPlaysBillings.org.

The Rose Park Elementary School Parent Teacher Association recently presented a proposal to build a new playground. The project, called the Every Child Plays Inclusive Playground, is raising money for an all-inclusive playground to provide a place where all of Rose Park’s children can explore the world through unencumbered play.

Currently, children with special needs are unable to interact with playground equipment.

The existing Rose Park Elementary School playground does not conform to the federal stipulations set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act as it does not provide accessibility for those of all abilities.

Once constructed, the new playground would be outfitted with “inclusive playground equipment, wheelchair-accessible ground covering, necessary borders, and wheelchair-accessible access ramps.”

According to the fundraiser’s website, EveryChildPlaysBillings.org, “These items will allow for students with special needs to have access to playground equipment — access that they currently do not have — where they can integrate and play with their typically- developed peers.”

“The goal goes beyond the simple addition of a few accessible pieces of equipment but instead focuses on the mutually beneficial and important value of inclusive play between students who are typically-developed and those of diverse abilities,” the website states.

Simply put, the purpose is to create a permanent space at Rose Park where no child will be excluded from play due to physical limitations or special needs.

Approximately 265 students attend Rose Park Elementary School. Fifteen percent are recognized as having some form of special need.

In response to this, Rose Park has a low incidence independent living classroom, which is designed to support students with learning disabilities.

Rose Park is the only public elementary school in Billings that provides a low incidence independent living classroom and has been deemed, by Billings School District 2, the placement school for medically fragile and physically impaired students.

Officials at Rose Park want to provide facilities that enable children, of all abilities, to learn effectively and play together more constructively.

With the low incidence room, Rose Park has already taken substantial steps toward this goal. The proposed playground is another major step toward further benefiting the community’s children.

The Rose Park PTA founded the Every Child Plays Inclusive Playground Project in January 2018 with the goal of raising $304,500 to pay for all the necessary equipment.

With the help of local businesses, grants, and the support of the Billings community, Rose Park PTA has nearly reached this goal.

As additional needs have come up, numerous businesses have donated labor and supplies needed for installation of the all-inclusive playground equipment.

As of March 19, $248,461 has been committed to the project. Thanks to the substantial number of donors, there’s just a little over $55,000 left to raise in order to reach $304,500 by May 2019.

If you are interested in contributing to the project, there are fundraisers you can donate to.

The first of these events is the Central Christian Church Book Sale, which will be running the first week in April at 1221 16th St. W.

Ten percent of proceeds from the Book Sale go directly to the Every Child Plays project.

Another fundraiser takes places at the 406 Kitchen and Taproom on April 30. Participants will play bingo; half the proceeds of the game will go to the winner and the other half goes to the project.

There’s also the Rose Park Art Crawl, an auction hosted by Rocky Mountain College Community Engagement.

By participating in any one of these fundraisers or by donating directly to the project, you can make a difference in a child’s life.

For more information about the Every Child Plays Inclusive Playground Project, like, follow, and share their page on Facebook, @everychildplaysbillings, or visit their website, www.everychildplaysbillings.org.

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