Elementary school a finalist for all-accessible playground

WAUPACA, Wis. (WBAY) -- A Waupaca elementary school snags a finalist position in a national competition, with hopes to win a $100,000 grant to build a new playground.

“I think we all remember what it's like to be on a playground and have that chance, have a little bit of freedom during the school day,” says Liz Kneer, President of the Waupaca Learning Center Parent Teacher Group. “It's got to be hard being different, as a kid. It's got to be really difficult.”

The Waupaca Learning Center is hoping to replace an older piece of playground equipment with something new and more accessible to students with special needs.

“No matter who you are, and what you can or cannot do, we're going to do what we can to make sure that you have the same access as everybody else,” says John Erspamer, Principal of Waupaca Learning Center.

The new playground would be ADA, or American Disabilities Act, approved, equipped with ramps and a solid grounding for kids who use wheelchairs or canes.

“I would love to see them have, just, the same chances as everyone else to be a kid out on the playground. And play, and have fun, and really be able to interact with their peers,” Kneer says.

Right now, 10 percent of students who attend Waupaca Learning Center have special needs.

“So to have the access that our kids with physical disabilities have, would be priceless,” says Erspamer.

Staff members say this new playground would service more than just students at the school, but also throughout the community. Currently, the closest ADA approved playground is 35 minutes away, in Stevens Point.

“There's some stuff I get stuck on, other stuff I can do,” third-grader Adam Nehring says of the current playground. “[To get a new one] … It would make people really happy here.”

Voting for the grant runs until March 15th. Users are allowed to vote each day, on every device they have. Click here to vote.

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