Slate Creek 'excited about giving and sharing'

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Slate Creek Elementary is fundraising to add a "Cruiser," a piece of inclusive/handicap accessable playground equipment, to the school playground.

On a morning like just about any other morning at Slate Creek Elementary, students were greeted in the lobby by a wheel chair with a tray sitting over its arm rests. That tray was put in place to collect donations for a project to add equipment to the school playground. 

But not just any equipment — the school is wanting to add a swing that is handicap accessible to make the playground more inclusive. 

"I believe we all win when we celebrate diversity, instead of fearing it, or hiding it," said Andrea Regier, Vision Impairment specialist at the school . "Newton doesn't currently have wheelchair swing for public access, so this might be a first."

The fundraising effort — with an initial goal of $10,000 — did not take long. Students filled the tray quickly, and have kept bringing donations to the school. There is a general feeling of excitement about adding a piece of inclusive equipment. 

"All of our students personally know the students at the school who would benefit from this playground equipment and are friends with them and care about them," Regier said. "...  Students are really excited.  I've helped facilitate several fundraisers over the years, and I've never seen students so intrinsically motivated. I keep finding donation envelopes with what looks to be coins from their piggybanks in it."

That excitement has also been fueled by celebrations at milestones — like a visit to the school from a  Norwegian Dwarf Goat when the effort reached $8,000. 

Community members can donate online at https://slatecreek2021.pledge-drive.net/Participant/SBF0807A1  or by mail by writing a check to “Slate Creek PTO” and sending  it to 901 E. 4th Street, Newton, KS, 67114.

To completely replace the existing school playground and make it accessible is estimated at more  than $50,000 , which is what motivated school administration and the Parent-Teacher Organization to focus on adding accessible features like wheelchair-accessible swings. The cost of that project is estimated at between $25,000 and $30,000 — including adding n hard surface flooring for the equipment.

The group has selected a swing called a Cruiser, which can be used by both wheelchair-bound and non-wheelchair bound riders. Other options are being considered as well. 

"Whatever equipment we end up getting will be integrated into the current playground. We want the kids to be able to play all together. It will likely be on the south side of the school," Regier said.

Students at Slate Creek Elementary have been donating funds to a project adding inclusive playground equipment to the school playground — and have exceeded initial fundraising goals.

The school increasing the goal (for the second time) to $25,000 and is extending the fund-raising effort through April 26. 

"There is a lot of love and compassion at Slate Creek," Regier said.  "I think that's what I love the most about this fundraiser. Instead of having kids get excited about getting stuff, they are excited about giving and sharing."