6 Elmore county schools adding new and inclusive playground equipment

Developing new playground equipment. (Struthers Recreation)

8,500 children across Elmore county are cheering at the groundbreaking news. Six elementary schools in Elmore are revamping their playground equipment, making it accessible for all children to enjoy.

Planning for the future

Recess is a time set apart for children to be creative, get their energy out and enjoy being a kid. However, many school playgrounds do not have equipment that can accommodate each individual students’ needs. James Mann, the Chief Financial Office for Elmore county public schools, decided to change the narrative in his town.

Over the past six years, Mann has had a dream—to bring adaptable and inclusive playground equipment to the schools in Elmore county. Working alongside his wife Jessica Mann—the transition coordinator in the Special Education Central Office in Montgomery County Public Schools—the duo set their plan into action. 

Superintendent speaks out

8,500 kids across six elementary schools will have access to the new and improved playgrounds. The schools receiving the updates include Eclectic Elementary School, Redland Elementary School, Holtville Elementary School, Airport Road Intermediate School, Coosada Elementary School, and Wetumpka Elementary School.

Richard Dennis, the superintendent, praised Mann, according to Elmore Autauga News.

“He was the driving force behind the effort and was instrumental in helping us get grants to make it happen. He’s got a passion for it and a wife who has brought it to his attention.”

– Richard Dennis, Elmore County Schools, Superintendent

The builder

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Elmore county is partnering with Struthers. (Struthers Recreation)

The project will be finished this September, just in time for the start of the new school year. The county is partnering with Struthers Recreation to build the equipment. Struthers was chosen because of their efficiency, diligence and generosity. They are adding several features, such as mulching, with no extra cost.

In addition, Struthers met with each of the six schools and their P.E. teachers to discuss the specific needs and how to best meet them accordingly.

Just like the Manns, Dennis feels passionate about completing this project, especially as a parent.

“I have four children and I remember that whenever we saw a really nice playground, their excitement level would be through the roof. This gives every child that same opportunity.”

– Richard Dennis, Elmore County School, Superintendent

What will be included?

 Some of the unique features will include:

  • Shady areas to protect children from the unrelenting and sweltering Alabama heat
  • Rock walls
  • Ramps that lead to the top of the playground equipment
  • Accessible slides

Future planning

Mann’s plans for the future don’t end in September. He is already dreaming up plans to include middle schools, as well as provide adaptable equipment for high school classrooms. We are excited to see all that he continues to do and hope other counties around the state start to follow by example.

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Sophie Higby
Sophie Higby
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