Indian River County schools to get more accessible playgrounds

A rendering of a new accessible playground at Sebastian Elementary School on Aug. 3, 2021.jpg
Posted at 3:37 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 18:25:17-04

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — For parents of special needs students, there's a constant push to keep them safe and engaged in the classroom.

Now there's a movement in one area school district to safely add inclusivity outside of the classroom.

When the Klim family moved to Florida four years ago, Stacey Klim was saddened to see what was available for her son Jackson during recess.

"As Jackson grew up there was really no option for him to play on a playground," Klim said. "All he was able to do during recess was sit in his wheelchair and watch the other kids play."

Klim began to research inclusive playgrounds and took her concerns to municipal governments, but wasn’t getting very far.

"It made me sad of course. I want my son to go out on the playground and play with other kids. Just because he’s in a wheelchair doesn’t mean he doesn’t have energy he needs to get out," Klim said.

But that’s changing in Indian River County schools.

Special needs teacher Treva Boggan Cofer has spent the last decade getting creative when it comes to getting her kids exercise.

"I have classes where seven or eight kids can go on the playground but two can’t and I don’t have the heart to tell them that they can’t play," Cofer said

But recently, she got great news.

Sebastian Elementary School will be the first of four schools to get a brand new accessible playground. Cofer has a direct hand in its planning.

"Trying to put together an area where no matter the ability, age level, grade level, intellectual ability, anybody can get on and play," Cofer said.

"I do recess duty sometimes and it’s nice that I’ll be able to see all of my students included in playtime," said principal Letitia Hart.

Klim said while Jackson may be too old for these new playgrounds, his younger peers will not be left behind.

"They’re really great plans and I’m really excited for the schools to have them," Klim said.

If all goes as planned, the playground will be ready for all kids by the end of December.