RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) — A persuasive essay at Rantoul’s Northview Elementary School proved more than convincing as the proposal turned into a new playground for all kids to enjoy.
The school now has wheelchair accessible equipment and sensory items for students with disabilities. Principal Kelly Mahoney said her school takes special interests in meeting disabled students’ needs with four classes specifically supporting them. After third-graders proposed new inclusive equipment for their playground in a persuasive essay assignment, Mahoney decided to turn the idea into a reality.
“There were some hindrances, let’s just say, with them being able to access all of the areas of the playground that the other students were coming to,” Mahoney said.
Although the old playground was ADA certified, some students were having difficulty with flooring made of loose tire scraps that got in the way of being a truly inclusive playground. After the new equipment was proposed, it took about six to eight months of planning, and about three months to install.
Mahoney said now, her students have been mixing even more with their fellow classmates.
“It has been a big hit with all of the students,” she said. “We’ve seen an increase in the students interacting with students that we haven’t seen before. So not only with our students with disabilities, but all of our students have really enjoyed all of the equipment.”
Mahoney said the earlier kids can learn to embrace their differences, the better.
“We all need to look at how — even though we might not all be the same — we are different and we all have good qualities and we need to find the good in each other.”