At Westmoreland Academy, we do not want our students to miss out on the childhood joy of outdoor play. Thus, we have launched the Playground Project, which seeks to raise the nearly $125,000 needed to build a state-of-the-art special needs playground for children with autism. We have already raised nearly $15,000 for the first phase of the project — we are almost at our goal to reach the $25,000 needed for the foundation demolition and first swing set.
The second phase of the project is the most expensive and will involve the purchase and placement of specialized playground equipment. Unlike most playgrounds, a special needs playground focusing on children with autism must have additional components and safety features. This playground will include several water stations and other sensory components of a special needs playground in addition to swings and other equipment. The second phase will cost approximately $100,000.
Children with autism need a special playground. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Unique Sensory Needs:
Children with autism need specialized sensory equipment, such as low-key musical instruments and sound wheels, elevated sand tables, water tables, interactive touch panels, and imaginative equipment.
- Adult Intervention:
This playground requires open areas for safe and easy access to adults for supervision, support, and interaction.
- Diverse Functionality:
The playground provides a welcoming and accessible play structure with ramps, pathways, maneuvering space, and transfer systems.
- Increased Safety:
The playground requires a special safety surfaces, grips, flooring, platforms, and rails for those with motor skills challenges.
- Specific Social Needs:
The playground environment must be specifically designed to foster social interactions, cooperation, and sharing among children who traditionally struggle with social interactions.
Since the beginning, IRL staff have gone out of their way to assure that the school and school grounds honor the look and aesthetics of this historic neighborhood. Our playground will be no different. Appropriate landscaping, lighting, and foliage are part of the construction plans. Painting and access to the playground through walks and gates will also be part of the budget.
We need your help in spreading the word on our Playground Project. We have set up a GoFundMe page, a Facebook page, a Twitter page, and have launched this new website specific to Westmoreland Academy. If you can donate, great! If you share our links with your social media groups, even better.