Students working to upgrade playground at Carver Elementary in Florence
FLORENCE, S.C. – Students at Carver Elementary School are raising money to make their playground more inclusive.
The students are raising money to renovate the basketball court, purchase and install a sensory board for students and place another bench on the playground.
The renovations are a part of a larger plan to completely renovate the playground, making the playground more inclusive and better for students, Principal Josie Little said.
“We are adding on every year so we aren’t just holding the money,” Little said. “The students can actually see the changes.”
The fundraising started last year when Karen Munn’s first-grade class heard about some playground equipment that needed repairs.
As the class discussed the repairs, one student mentioned that not all students were able to play at recess because the playground wasn’t inclusive to students with disabilities. Munn and her students got together to plan the first Fun Run at Carver and raised $9,000 .
Carver installed a ramp into the playground area, two benches and two stepping stones, as well as a ball shoot activity that was specifically fitted to students in wheelchairs.
This year, Carver has been raising money selling water to people waiting in the student pickup lines, collecting spare change from students and selling T-shirts that two students designed.
Munn said parents and businesses have played an active role in fundraising for the playground.
Dennis Ward with FW Architects Inc. drew a plan for the playground free. Parents have been collecting donations and 20 local businesses sponsored the T-shirts for the annual Fun Run, which is a fundraising activity for students.
“We feel very humbled by the generosity with their expression,” Munn said. “Not just with their money, but with the time they’re spending to make this a success.”
Florence One Schools is also helping with the playground renovations.
On Nov. 2, students from Munn’s class, the class who started the fundraising last year, presented their ideas for an inclusive playground to Florence One Schools Superintendent Richard O’Malley.
O’Malley said he challenged the students to raise $1,000 for the playground and write a letter on why they think the inclusive playground is important for their school before his Nov. 20 return to the school, and O’Malley will give $10,000 toward the playground.
“I just felt that we’ve done so much in so many areas, this is another way that I wanted to start to chip away at,” O’Malley said. “It’s an important part of a student’s day.”
O’Malley said this is a part of the district’s initiative to place an emphasis on special education within the school district.
“We are one and we are doing it for everyone, and those young children have the same opportunity to think about their class and their strengths and weaknesses and design the playground,” O’Malley said. “We definitely want to help along those lines.”