Trikes, Big Wheels, scooters and wagons took to the pavement at the Liberty Early Childhood Center early in May as dozens of preschoolers rode their way toward a goal of improving their playground.
The Liberty Early Childhood Center is the Liberty School District’s developmental preschool. The school serves between 250 and 300 children each year in its preschool programs and more than 700 children in the Parents as Teachers program.
The school hosted a trike-a-thon with hopes of raising about $5,000 for new play equipment. Principal Sarah Birk said they were surprised to more than doubled that goal, raising more than $12,000.
“We have just been blown away by the generosity of our families,” Birk said.
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The money will go to enhance the playground with more sensory friendly play elements and equipment to make the playground more accessible for all children.
“We all have sensory needs,” Birk said. “Outdoor play is one of the best ways for kids to really have a chance to explore and channel that sensory energy and get those needs met.
“There’s all kinds of research coming to light that shows us how we can help children meet those sensory needs and help them be better focused in the classroom and help them be better able to learn throughout the day.”
Musical instruments, sensory panels for touching, feeling and looking, more swings and adaptive disc swings for children with low tone will be part of the additions. The school will also start replacing wood chip surfacing with pour in place surfacing to help accessibility for wheelchairs and children who use walkers, and replacing a play pit with zero level entry surfacing. Right now every play area has a small step, which limits play.
Birk says the children served at the Early Childhood Center have a variety of needs. With the future playground changes, they are hoping to be able to offer the same play experiences to all children.
“We understand the developmental window for all children is different. Our job is to meet children where they are and help support them to promote kindergarten readiness, and help them to become the best version of themselves they can be,” Birk said.