Berea Schools' all-inclusive playground officially opens

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Jul. 22—On Monday, Berea Community Schools cut the ribbon for their first all-inclusive playground.

Ashley Hammond of BCS explained it had been an uphill battle to officially see disabled children playing with other children on the playground Monday.

According to a previous Register article, on February 3, the Register printed a story which outlined the fact staff of Berea Community Schools, partners Kendyl and Friends Foundation non-profit, and other community members had nine days to raise more than $75,000 to build the all-inclusive playground.

A year before the nine-day deadline, Hammond said the playground committee began work to secure funding and support for a playground made for children and adults of all abilities and disabilities.

Despite the challenges, the group raised $53,000 for the project and secured funds from the state in the amount of $34,850 to help with flooring. But, in February, they were still short nearly $76,000 to fund the project's completion.

According to a previous Register article, on Feb. 2, the group went before the Berea City Council to ask for assistance from the board, businesses, or community members to help them meet their goals.

Thankfully, they were able to continue with the project through donations. The ribbon was officially cut to the all-inclusive playground on Monday.

"We got as creative as we could and worked our butts off to get the playground constructed for the kids," Hammond said.

Hammond explained the school has a high percentage of children who are disabled. She said one child, in particular, uses a wheelchair, and he is going to be in first grade in the upcoming school year. He has never been able to access the playground without the help of an adult.

Now, the child will be able to play alongside all of their friends.

"... To see our children play with other children, I really can't describe it. It was amazing, really wonderful to see," Hammond said, noting herself and a group of other families with disabled children had worked very hard to get the all-inclusive playground at Berea Schools.

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