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Inclusivity at the heart of CCSD playground plan

Creston Communities Schools will see two new playgrounds at the Early Childhood Center and the Creston Elementary/Middle School in the future.

Equipment for the new playground at the Early Childhood Center is being stored in Creston until spring when site preparation and dirt work can be done.

“The project at the ECC, right now, when all is said and done, looks like it’s going to be around $250,000,” said Creston Community Schools superintendent Steve McDermott. “That’s from sales tax pennies and the physical plant and equipment levy. None of that comes from the general fund and taxes won’t be raised because that money was already put away and earmarked for this project.”

The goal for both playgrounds is to make them easily accessible to children of all abilities. A significant part of both playground projects is a pour-in-place surface made of soft, rubbery material that will still be solid and firm enough for a wheelchair to roll around on.

Equipment will include a type of four-arm seesaw which would allow a wheelchair to roll onto a platform and be strapped in while other children sit on seats on the other three arms to rock back and forth together.

McDermott said he’s been working with ECC principal Callie Anderson to create a multi-sensory playground where kids use different senses – touch, feel and sound.

“We’ve also planned that carefully so things are spaced and positioned so they can serve as many kids as possible at the same time,” said McDermott. “Sometimes, when playgrounds are built, they’ll build a great big castle type thing and put all the neatest pieces right in the middle. Then kids wind up having to wait in line for things, and we tried to avoid that.”

The elementary school playground is part of the two-year plan for the district, but a construction date has not been set.

“The project specs are just now being finished up, so the project itself hasn’t even been put out for bids yet,” said McDermott. “We’ll be doing that in the coming weeks. From there, the district will choose the company to provide the equipment and installation, and then build the timeline for when we think something like that can be installed. A lot of that depends on the weather.”

The proposed site for construction of the new elementary school playground is in the open field west of the school. The land there is already fairly level, said McDermott, which should save time and money on site preparation and dirt work.

The elementary school project is projected at $500,000, but McDermott said a fund raiser is planned to raise more money to make the current playground as nice as it can be while construction of the new play area is underway.

“A lot of that additional funding will go to building what is called a “miracle field,” said McDermott. “They have one up in Ankeny and some different places. It’s essentially a large ball field that’s covered with this poured-in-place surfacing, and we’d kind of like to have a field like that here along with some additional new pieces of equipment.”

McDermott believes the playgrounds will be utilized by the entire community.

“They’ll become regional facilities where kids from all over the region will come and play,” said McDermott.

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