Edmond playgrounds get "facelift" to accommodate all students 

click to enlarge Playground at Cross Timbers Elementary School in Edmond, Tuesday, July 7, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Playground at Cross Timbers Elementary School in Edmond, Tuesday, July 7, 2015.

Six of Edmond’s 17 elementary schools are receiving “playground facelifts” this summer, thanks to an investment in outdoor recreation by its district administration.

As part of an effort to become more accommodating to all of its students, renovations emphasize “integrating the involvement of the school’s students with physical disabilities” along with their playtime peers, said a statement on Noah’s pARK & Playgrounds’ website.

Noah’s is the Edmond-based company that built the equipment.

It’s all part of making sure every student feels like they’re on equal footing, said Susan Parks-Schlepp, community involvement and public information director of Edmond Public Schools.

“Outdoor play is vital to a child’s well-being … We want our playgrounds to accommodate children of all abilities,” she said.

Renovations at Angie Debo, Centennial, Charles Haskell, Cross Timbers, Washington Irving and West Field elementary schools should be completed before the 2015--16 school year begins on Aug. 20.

Parks--Schlepp said principals and special education staff from each school helped design each new playground.

“Our site principals and special education staff are really looking forward to this,” she said. “The beauty of this project is that no two playgrounds will be alike. Those staff members were instrumental in deciding layout and design elements that would best suit each school’s student population.”

Noah’s pARK then created the playgrounds and toys to suit each school’s specific student needs, said co-owner Shan Shepherd. He and wife DeAnn founded the local company in 2001.

Designs accommodate kids ages 5-12 years old, adhere to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) standards and include details such as safety-rated wear mats under slide exits, proper depth of wood mulch underneath the toys and concrete ramp access to playgrounds. The toys also feature customized colors; spiral, double and triple slides; climbing portions; and activity panels. Washington Irving and West Field also will install Freenotes Harmony Park Weenotes music packages, which include kid-friendly, outdoor xylophones, metallophones and chimes.

Noah’s pARK also was subcontracted to install a seventh playground at the district’s new Heritage Elementary School.

The ADA, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last month, gives civil rights protections to people with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, sex, age and religion.

“We are honored to be working with Edmond Public Schools,” Shepherd said in a media release. “We feel each school is getting what they specifically want and, more importantly, need for their students.”

Print headline: All-in amusement, Edmond Public Schools work with a local design and manufacturing company to make its recess time accessible to elementary students.

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