New Playground Unveiled for Younger Students

Posted on September 29th, 2017 at 8:18 PM

Young students returning to classes at the Barber National Institute had more to be excited about than just the start of a new school year.  They would soon be greeted by the opening of a new playground specially designed for preschool and early grade students. 

The ribbon cutting was held on Friday, Sept. 29 for the Early Childhood Playground located on the Barber National Institute main campus.   The new facility was funded through generous donations from Erie Insurance; PNC Grow Up Great; Charities for Children; and a gift from longtime supporter Pauline Stevens.

The colorful new attraction, made by Landscape Structures, offers several activity play-spaces that are ADA compliant and developed to be inclusive for children with disabilities.  The features include two curvy balance beams, three play shaper posts, two talk tubes, and a structure with a double slide and a curvy slide as well as a belt bridge and vertical climbers.  The dedicated space includes a grassy area where students can draw on a paint panel or chalk boards, play a set of drums and engage in a variety of different types of activities.

While an interactive playground has been available for elementary and middle school age students in the Elizabeth Lee Black School, younger children didn’t have a play area tailored for their needs.  “We designed this playground to be appropriate for students from three to eight years of age, including our typically developing preschoolers as well as students with disabilities,” said Dr. Maureen Barber-Carey, executive vice president of the Barber National Institute. “This has been our dream for three years, and it is exciting to see it become a reality for this school year.”

The structures and activities in the Early Childhood Playground are designed to promote the development of gross and fine motor skills, problem solving and cognitive abilities, eye-hand coordination and tactile and auditory development.

More than 100 children are expected to be using the new playground, including students in two PreK Counts classrooms, the inclusive Happy Hearts Preschool, early intervention preschool classes, and students with multiple handicaps in elementary grade classes.