Elementary students help design communication concept for universal playground

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — By the end of the year, Huntsville will be home to one of only two “universal playgrounds” in the state. The nearly million-dollar Cove Universal Playground is being built off Taylor Road in Hampton Cove. It will be a place where children of all abilities can play together with no barriers.

On Tuesday, fourth-graders at Hampton Cove Elementary School shared design ideas for a communication board that will be installed at the playground when it opens this fall.

“I think that everyone should be able to play together, no matter what you look like, how old you are, tall you are, short you, are just everyone should be able to play together,” said fourth-grader Ann Wilson Burgess.

The communication board will be a tool for use by all kinds of children, parents, and playmates.

“So maybe if they’re nonverbal, or if a kid’s just having a bad day and they don’t want to talk to anyone,” explained fourth-grader Josh Berkholtz.

The board will be made of simple words that represent emotions, wants, needs, and places. The concept is still being developed, but the board will also have pictures that correlate with the words, so even non-readers will be able to use it.

These fourth graders are already developing empathy to understand what their peers with disabilities might be going through, and what they might need at the playground to make life a little easier– and more playful!

“The hope is that we can really make an impact from a disability awareness impact even before this playground opens,” said Allison Proud, a communications lead for the project.

The playground is still fundraising and plans to be open in Fall 2020.

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