Middletown, OH Kiwanis
A new playground at the Amanda Elementary School would give this community a safe place for children of all developmental levels to play and socialize. There are 407 children enrolled in this school, and 100 other children in the surrounding neighborhood who could benefit from an appropriate playground. There are no other playgrounds available for this neighborhood and transportation to other playgrounds is not possible for these children. This is a low income neighborhood and 100% of the children are on the free or reduced lunch program. The state report card for this school is an F. There are 10 autistic children in the school, and 10 physically challenged children. Currently the playground only accommodates children with no physical limitations. At Amanda Elementary we pride ourselves in providing the least restrictive environment for children. Our current playground does not support our goal of, “no child left behind or forgotten.” We often have children who are unable to access the equipment or who cannot be safe on the equipment. Extra staff aren't always available in the event that a child needs assistance. When children with special needs aren't able to play with their peers it makes them feel isolated and insecure, which breaks our hearts. The existing playground is 15 years old, is in very poor condition and is positioned to be visible from the street. For safety the playground would be better situated in the back of the school.
A safe, developmentally appropriate playground would give the families of the area a place to gather and play. 95% of the children come from non-traditional families – single parents or children being raised by family relatives or foster parents. There is very poor parent involvement in education. Children are not able to access adequate exercise options, such as organized sports, and 30% are overweight. Increased exercise can help to improve health, help children to improve personal control, and contribute to balanced social and emotional interactions and improve self-esteem. These students tend to have poorer health related to their low income. The school nurse has documented increased illnesses and first aid as compared to other schools in the district.
The neighborhood dynamics have changed throughout the years. The only other nearby park, Damon Park, was purchased and repurposed as an Adult rehab site and the children of the neighborhood have nowhere else to play. Their neighborhood is surrounded by AK Steel, SunCoke and Cohen Brothers recycling. These contribute to ongoing air quality issues as well. Students having a proper place to play would greatly benefit them.
Currently the playground does not meet ADA requirements. The school serves multi-handicap students who have limited success outside due to the condition of the current playground.