"It's awesome!" Those were the sentiments shouted by 8-year-old Mayli Gibson, a student at Curtis Elementary, who spends most of her day confined to a wheelchair. Her excitement came as Weatherford ISD unveiled a new, all-inclusive playground on Thursday, every child at her campus could play on, regardless of their abilities.
"This day is about inclusion and accessibility. It's about the importance of play and including everyone," said Sami Gibson - Mayli's mother. "This means everything. It's nice to see the independence she has on the playground."
Superintendent, Dr. Jeff Hanks also referred to the new addition as "awesome."
"I don't know another school district in the state of Texas - that has seven elementary campuses - that will have playgrounds like this. They will be accessible to all our kids, and that's the key piece," Hanks said. "All of our kids will have a place to play, and Curtis Elementary is the first to try it out."
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Bryan O'Conner, president of Total Recreation Products and builder of the playground, said he was approached by WISD about three years ago regarding the school's options.
"The district reached out to us and asked that we come take a look at the equipment at all of their campuses and evaluate it and see how it stacked up regarding safety and accessibility," O'Conner said. "We did, and things just continued to progress from there. We identified the needs but that was just half of the equation, there was still the issue of funding."
The company has hundreds of playgrounds across the state not limited to just school campuses, but in city parks, at churches and apartment complexes, to name a few.
The cost of the playgrounds, including all elementary campuses when finished, will be slightly more than $1 million.
"It's a gift to watch Mayli play," O'Conner said. "It is awesome."