For Early Childhood Learning Center, a preschool program that is part of the Lake Pend Oreill School District, occupying a classroom on the Farmin-Stidwell Elementary campus has been a tremendous advantage. They get to share a host resources from the gymnasium to the hot lunch program.
But as a program that serves children as young as three, including some with developmental disabilities, Early Childhood Learning Center’s needs for outdoor play equipment are different than a traditional elementary school.
“We would like to build a separate and smaller adaptive playground for these students,” says Kathy McDonald, a paraprofessional has been working in this classroom for the past 15 years. “Since some of our population is very young, as well as have size and physical disabilities, the traditional playground is not safe for our very youngest students.”
When Rep. Sage Dixon (District 1 Seat B) heard about the plan, he wanted to help. He stepped up and offered to provide “seed money” for the project from his 2016 Steps for Schools Walking Challenge winnings. With these funds, the team at the Early Childhood Learning Center is beginning playground research and planning and also plan to pursue additional grant funding to help this worthy project come to life.
“I was looking to donate to a school, or program, with a definitive need, and not just contribute to any school,” says Representative Dixon. “My mother taught special needs children, and the Farmin-Stidwell Special Needs playground seemed like a perfect fit.”