During the 2022-2023 school year, Antioch CCSD 34 administration initiated a plan to revamp our playgrounds, aiming to provide enhanced opportunities and experiences for all our children. Our primary objective is to ensure that every student has access to play and explore stimulating environments. Our vision is to create inclusive and sensory-rich playgrounds, fostering an enjoyable leisure space for all the kids to share. This undertaking reflects our commitment to supporting the well-being and happiness of our students. For our children with special needs, we do not want them to travel outside their community to access parks that are appropriate for them. We want them to play and learn here, at their school, with their friends. It is important that all our kids have a place to learn and a place to play together.
Our first step in accomplishing this plan has been to add inclusive equipment to our elementary playgrounds. Some of the pieces we added are:
The Momentum Corridor provides a unique rolling experience with overhead bars where kids are able to pull themselves across the full length of a roller table. They can enjoy a tactile event with gentle bumps. The Momentum Corridor is at transfer height, making it an accessible piece of equipment on our playground. The Momentum Corridor also provides students with Sensory Play experiences through Proprioceptive Input (knowing exactly where their body parts are and how to plan their movements), and Tactile Stimulation (activation of their sensory touch stimulus).
The Ten Spin is designed to accommodate a group of up to 10 children simultaneously, promoting inclusivity by allowing kids of all abilities to participate in the fun, whether they choose to sit, kneel, or stand. This freestanding product fosters a sense of togetherness and enables children of various abilities to play together. Moreover, it offers a crucial sensory experience that aids in child development by engaging the Vestibular system. This system plays a significant role in our perception of body position concerning gravity, movement, and balance.
The Dynamics Lab lets kids experiment with motion—from the Pin Impression to the Jingle Drum, kids will love exploring movement while making new friends. Dynamics Lab is a piece of equipment that gives kids the opportunity to test out the basic laws of mechanics in an exciting play setting, with a focus on special education and STEM. The Dynamics Lab provides Sensory Play experiences through Auditory Input (detecting vibrations and changes in the pressure in the ear), Proprioceptive Input (knowing exactly where their body parts are and how to plan their movements), and Tactile Stimulation (activation of their sensory touch stimulus), and Visual Input (detecting images of visible lights and recognize varying colors, hues, and brightness).
As we continue the expansion of our playgrounds, our next step is to transition the ground from mulch to a surface that is fit for all children and adults with physical needs; wheelchair accessibility is important so that all of our children can have an inviting and enjoyable experience in their neighborhoods where they can explore their world, and develop motor skills, physical strength, and cognitive functioning. Looking ahead, we will partner with parents, students, staff, and community partners to plan for and solicit ideas regarding the possibility of expanding our playgrounds. We will intentionally select designs so children of all ages and abilities can play, be challenged, and have fun together.