Kiwanis donates $30,000 for accessible playground

Paula Neuman

Students at the Lincoln Center in Wyandotte will be able to play safely outside on a new accessible playground, thanks to a donation of $30,000 from the city’s Kiwanis 1000.

The students, ages 5-26, have autism spectrum disorder and cognitive and emotional impairment. They come to the Lincoln Center from 17 Downriver school districts. Lincoln Center, established in 2000, is housed in the former Taft Elementary School.

“There was an elementary school playground that was quite old,” said Lincoln Center Program Administrator Lauren Feigel. “It never really met the needs of our students, and it was kind of falling apart. Some pieces were deemed to be unsafe.”

The old playground has been demolished, and in the spring, the center will hold a “community build” to install the new equipment — a SMART playground accessible to all of the students, children and young adults alike. SMART stands for sensory, motor, academic, recreational/social and therapeutic.

“With the SMART playground program, the students can participate in educational activities while they are involved in sensory activities or emotional regulation,” Feigel said. “This will allow students to engage more in academics, including developing social and communication skills. Teachers will actually conduct lessons on the playground.”

And the students will get to play outside safely at school for the first time.

Feigel and other staff members gave a presentation about the need for the new playground at a Kiwanis Club meeting recently. The members responded quickly.

“We offered to help them with it,” said George Lukawski, past president of the club, which meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third  Tuesdays each month at the Wyandotte Big Boy restaurant in downtown Wyandotte. “We said OK, we’re going to help.”

A formal presentation of the $30,000 donation took place Nov. 19 at a Wyandotte Board of Education meeting.

The city’s Kiwanis Club, organized in 1923, is Wyandotte’s oldest civic group, and focuses on helping children and on other charitable projects.

“They really came through in a huge way with this,” Feigel said. “They made a huge contribution toward the playground itself. We are so very appreciative of Kiwanis. I can’t thank them enough for everything they are doing for us. Our students truly need this. It is equipment that can meet the needs of all our students so they can go outside and enjoy it. We are so excited about what this can bring them.”

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