Augusta Evans Elementary
For Augusta Evans School in Mobile, Alabama, the new school building was a welcome update. But with limited budget, the project did not include a playground. Teachers and administrators knew they had to fill the gap.
Augusta Evans School is specialized—serving only kids with cognitive and physical disabilities. Children with special needs are more prone to obesity and diabetes. And children with ADHD and/or autism need outlets for excess energy. The benefits of play were not optional here.
So, fundraising began. Volunteers hosted golf outings, sold bricks, and reconditioned Mardi Gras beads for resale. Principal Allen Baggett launched a speaking tour of local organizations, barbecues, biker clubs—anywhere people were standing still. And people responded, including a major donation from the Rotary Club of Mobile.
Then came the next challenge: finding the right partner to build a playground for kids with special needs.
Principal Baggett researched all the options locally, regionally, and nationally. He talked to lots of people. Then he chose Playworld. “I needed someone who specialized in play,” he says. “This playground
needed to be great.”
Baggett worked with Warren Schlender, Playworld rep in Marietta, Georgia. “Warren came to see the school and meet the kids,” Bagget says. “He got a sense for what we needed, and gave us ideas, options, and a plan.”
The result is lots of fun and exercise for the kids, and lots of specialized features to accommodate diverse abilities. In fact, the playground is A–rated for inclusivity, thanks to a full range of activities, challenge levels, cozy spaces (for sensory relief), transfer stations, and wheelchair access.
Principal Baggett highlights other features, too, including the surface material. “A lot of our kids have challenges with getting around. Between that and potential falls, I like knowing our kids are safe.”
The NEOS® 360°—an electronic challenge game with lights and touch pads—is a center of attention, prompting lots of friendly competition. “It wears them out,” Baggett says. “It wears me out!”
The playground gets rave reviews from students and teachers alike. It’s helped everyone make the emotional transition to the new school, and it helps the kids focus in class—so they can get back outside for more recess.
It took a lot of hard work to bring the power of play to the Augusta Evans kids. But considering the physical, emotional, and social benefits, we’d say it was well worth the effort.