Cash, volunteers needed to help disabled pupils enjoy playground

NEIGHBORS

November 18, 1996|By Lyn Backe | Lyn Backe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN I WAS in grade school eons ago, I loved the classroom work and book reports and drama class and the gorgeous library that had a real fireplace and smelled of wax and special dust.

What I hated, and could not avoid, was sports, or PE, or gym, or whatever it was that we were required to do for an hour and a half every single afternoon. I hated monkey bars. I couldn't have climbed the ropes snaking down from the ceiling of the gym if my life had depended on it. The avid intramural competition of field hockey and softball and basketball was a vivid embarrassment to this nonathlete, whose idea of a game was Canasta, or, if I had to move, Jacks.

In retrospect, I know that my friends and I were lucky to have had the physical opportunities that the school required, and blessed to have had the luxury of not liking it. Today, many children aren't fortunate enough to have playgrounds like I remember.

The Central Special Education School playground on Stepney Road in Edgewater is one that needs a lot of work. The equipment is at least 20 years old. Items have been removed because they had become hazardous, and "the entire structure is in imminent need of replacement," said Lauran Jack, a spokeswoman for the Parent Teachers Group (PTG) at the school.

Central Special is a school for children with developmental disabilities. Some are able-bodied; others are in wheelchairs. For all of them, the challenge and triumph of physical exercise is a real part of their education, letting them learn with their bodies as well as their minds.

However, Central Special doesn't have any equipment that a child in a wheelchair can access or play with, other than a rusty wheelchair swing. Equipment for other children, built years ago from treated lumber, is rotting.

The Central Special PTG has launched a campaign to raise $50,000 in real and in-kind contributions for a new playground to accommodate children in wheelchairs and provide physical and sensory stimulation to all.

Jack said the group is consulting with playground equipment manufacturers to design a facility that meets the needs of all the children at Central Special. Once the design is chosen, it will seek sponsors of pieces of equipment and donations of time and materials to make it all happen.

The Central Special PTG wants to begin construction on at least one phase of the playground in the spring. A few significant donations and a lot of volunteer hours can make that happen.

For information, inspiration and input, call the school at 956-5885. Tours of the playground and discussions of what the PTG plans are easily arranged.

Looking for edible houses

Another kind of creativity is being courted by London Town House and Gardens.

Organizers of the holiday festivities are looking for 100 percent edible gingerbread houses for "A South County Holiday: Greens, Crafts, & Country" from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 7. Entries will be accepted up to Dec. 1.

The winner will receive a centerpiece created by volunteers at London Town and a family membership in the London Town Foundation. The day will include children's activities and the sale of holiday greens, centerpieces and unusual Christmas gifts.

Information: 222-1919.

Pub Date: 11/18/96

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