Making Sure All Kids Can Join in the Fun

Haley Wright

Southview Elementary School playground concept
Southview Elementary School playground concept

An inclusive playground – a first for the city of Chippewa Falls – is in the works to debut in the 2017-18 school year at Southview Elementary School, and the people behind this important project could use additional community support.

Sarah Denure, Southview’s principal, said that while there is currently a playground at the school with pieces of equipment that can be enjoyed by the majority of students, “We believe that all children should have the opportunity to play and explore together regardless of their abilities.”

“We want all of our students during the school day to have that same opportunity to play and explore with their peers.”– Sarah Denure, Southview Elementary School principal

“Building an inclusive playground at Southview will make that possible for children in our entire community,” she continued. “The idea to have the playground specifically at Southview occurred as we want all of our students during the school day to have that same opportunity to play and explore with their peers.” The plan is for the inclusive playground to replace the existing playground, on the same spot. The Southview Parent-Teacher Organization is working to make this goal possible through extensive fundraising efforts and a clear vision of an inclusive playground.

So what exactly goes into an inclusive playground? “We are looking to expand our inclusion model to more areas of our playground with the addition of new accessible equipment and a poured-in-place (rubber) surface under the new equipment that will make navigation easier for all students,” Denure said. “Children in wheelchairs, with walkers, with crutches, and with orthopedic impairments may have difficult accessing conventional playground equipment because of the surface under the equipment (wood chips) as well as the absence of ramping to allow students to be on the equipment. The playground we are raising funds to build will also have some sensory panels and other stand-alone pieces that may meet the needs of some children on the autism spectrum.”

Fundraising has included hat days for students, Pizza Night at Toppers, a GoFundMe Page, donations, sponsorships, and grants. There are still opportunities to donate directly to the project, including through participating in the upcoming Southview Bear Crawl 5K and 1 Mile Run/Walk on Oct. 1. In addition, the PTO is also looking to host a spaghetti or chili feed with a silent auction this winter.

The PTO has raised $13,000 so far. However, their goal is $180,000, leaving $167,000 yet to be raised. Their objective is to have all funds obtained so that construction can begin next summer and all students can enjoy the playground in the 2017-18 school year.

To learn how you can help make this important project possible, visit or www.facebook.com/SouthviewBearCrawl or sites.google.com/site/southviewelementarypto.

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