Over the past several years, Ray-Pec playgrounds have undergone transformations to make them more inclusive to children with a wide range of abilities.
The playgrounds at each elementary school and Shull Early Learning Center have been revamped to be visually appealing and to accommodate children of all abilities, promoting social interaction, physical development, and overall well-being.
Renovations have made entry points to the playgrounds accessible by wheelchairs or other mobility devices, and pathways between play structures allow children to easily navigate the playground.
Ground-level play activities and sensory elements enhance accessibility. For example, the playgrounds feature tactile surfaces, sound-producing panels, percussion panels, and/or interactive panels, such as easy-to-use spinners and gears. Each school’s playground was designed with input from staff and considerations for student needs.
This interactive musical element is located on the playground at Shull Early Learning Center.
Director of Special Education Marlena Walley said that accessible playground equipment allows children with different abilities to play together.
“Inclusive playgrounds encourage students to develop an awareness and acceptance of each other's differences throughout our school communities,” she said.
The updates have also created all-weather, safer playgrounds. They feature smoother edges and are installed on a softer surface. This, combined with the extension of asphalt, has eliminated the problem of muddy playgrounds on rainy days.
Each playground has a combination of playground surface, hard surface, and green space.
Shade panels and seating provide comfortable spaces for breaks. Improvements and equipment replacements were funded through various sources, including the district budget, grants, and contributions from PTAs.
"I believe that play for children of all ages and abilities is so important," said Dr. Michelle Hofmann, Director of Elementary Education. "The inclusive playground structures that our district has added create spaces that bring whole schools together, helping those with disabilities have fun, further their development, and feel a true sense of belonging, and helping all students in our community embrace the values of diversity and inclusion."
Pictured below are some renderings from Athco, the vendor that worked with the District on many of the playground upgrades.
Communication Board at Shull ELC
In 2021, Shull Early Learning Center added a communication board to the playground (pictured below). The project was made possible by a grant from the Raymore-Peculiar Public School Foundation.
Did you know?
The City of Raymore has two parks featuring amenities accessible to people of all abilities. Hawk Ridge Park, 701 Johnston Parkway, includes an ADA fishing dock, an accessible amphitheater, a paved walking trail, and Hawk’s Nest, an inclusive playground. T.B. Hanna Station, 214 S. Washington St., includes the Variety KC Inclusive Playground and Variety KC Inclusive Sprayground.