Longview ISD to get new special needs playground equipment so every kid can play

Longview ISD to get new special needs playground equipment so every kid can play
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 11:48 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 7:48 PM CST
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - The Longview Independent School District wants their special needs students engaged, even on the playground. They have designed custom playground equipment to meet the needs of students at six of their elementary schools.

LISD Physical Therapist Julia Betting and LISD Director of Special Programs Cindy Verhalen looked over renderings of playground equipment that will be placed at most of their elementary schools. It took some planning.

“I went out to each campus, looked at the playgrounds, looked at their facilities and kind of and saw that there was a need for specialized equipment,” Betting said.

“We are responsible for not only educating students academically, but we also provide social emotional support and services for them, as well as tending to their physical wellbeing outside,” Verhalen said.

Verhalen says students with cognitive disabilities or autism tend to wander or sit down outside and often don’t play on existing equipment.

“We started searching for equipment, playground equipment, so they could be just as engaged outside as they are in the classroom,” Verhalen said.

They looked into learning walls which are lower to the ground to make them wheelchair accessible as well.

“Options include the different tactile, auditory, visual stimulations. So, there’s tic tac toe, there’s mirrors, there’s gears, sign language, bubbles that the kids can crawl into. All sorts of things,” Betting said.

They say other students:

“Run out and they go up the steps, go down the slide, go up the steps, do the monkey bars, jump down. And for some of our kiddos that’s not an option. And so, we wanted to design and find some panels that were very inclusive,” Betting said.

Verhalen says the district has been redesigning their programs across the board and it’s bringing in more special needs students.

“They’re coming because we are able to provide what some surrounding districts can’t, because of our size. And so, we are seeing an influx in students. And as you see an influx you have to modify and change your programs to meet the needs of your students,” Verhalen said.

And the learning walls are part of that.

The learning walls will be delivered in the coming months and are slated to be installed this summer. The district is spending $76,000 on the project.