Carver Elementary cuts ribbon on renovated playground, unveils new inclusive playground equipment
By: William M. Mingus, III
A warm April day brought tons of laughter and screams of kids at play at Carver Elementary Magnet School recently.
Carver students and staff held a ribbon cutting, celebrating the addition of an inclusive merry-go-round that will allow access to all students.
Dr Richard O’Malley, Florence 1 Schools Superintendent, praised Carver Elementary saying,”The students and staff have a willingness to go out of their way to include everyone at recess”. Dr. O’Malley said that their willingness is setting the standards.
“It’s just a beautiful day, and not just with the weather, you know, just seeing all of this in place, seeing the kids play together and having a good time just seeing what recess is supposed to be about,” said Karen Munn, a first grade teacher at Carver Elementary. “The kids have worked really hard.”
Last year, the idea for fundraising for the new playground equipment was spearheaded by a first grader in Munn’s class. While going over some recess rules Munn told her students what they could not do on the playground because some of the equipment was broken. One student simply asked, “Well, can we fix it?”
Over the course of this school year the students raised over $10,000 to renovate the playground. The school used the money to repave the basketball court (including adding a ramp), added four new basketball goals, and repaired the monkey bars. The school district received a grant from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which was used for the merry-go-round.
Throughout the event, students spoke about what this new playground means to them, shared stories of their fundraising, and held playground themed banners.
During the celebration, kindergarten teacher Meagan Johnson spoke about the renovations to the playground. “It’s a place where students can play, laugh, and learn no matter their strengths or weaknesses. Year after year, I have had students struggle to access the equipment or have to sit on the sidelines…today, there is not more sitting on the sidelines because all Carver students can play, laugh, and learn together.”
“Smiling, laughing, you see children playing with each other that maybe didn’t know each other until they got on the playground,” Kandee Shelor, a Speech Therapist at Carver said. “It really encourages a lot of building of friends and just comradery amongst the whole school.”
Carver Elementary is the second school to receive the inclusive playground equipment. McLaurin Elementary was the first to receive the equipment in February and Lester Elementary School will be the next to receive their inclusive playground equipment, to be installed by the end of the school year.