Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

April 28, 2013

Poage seeking funds for special needs play area

ASHLAND — Wanting to fit in with friends and classmates is natural for any third-grader and no less so for Kailee Sharp, even though she has cerebral palsy and gets around in a wheelchair.

From her miniature “Girls Rule” license plate to the Justin Bieber backpack hanging from the back of the chair, Kailee’s world is little different from that of her playmates. She just has more difficulty getting around.

So when she goes to the playground at Poage Elementary School, where there is only one handicap-adapted swing and where the motorized wheels on her chair slip on the bark mulch surface, Kailee sometimes feels a bit left out.

It isn’t because the other children ignore her. Poage is structured as an inclusive school and its students, handicapped and non-handicapped, study and play together most of the day.

However, the swing is offset in a corner of the playground. Under most circumstances her friends will help her on and off and play with her while she swings. But often the sheer volume of playground chatter, and their own concentration on the spiral slide that is the nearest piece of equipment, drowns out her calls to them.

And because motoring her chair over the mulch is difficult, Kailee often can’t maneuver herself into the conversation circles where other children are swapping jokes or making after-school plans. “It frustrates her. She just wants to play with her classmates,” said her mother, Dorothy Giles. “Sometimes she’d rather stay inside because she can’t do anything out there.”

Kailee is not the only child so encumbered at Poage, which is the designated school in the Ashland district for the most severely handicapped children, including some who are autistic and others, like Kailee, who have mobility issues. The playground simply isn’t adequate for them, said kindergarten teacher Betsy Moore.

The mulch surface complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act, but in reality it isn’t suitable for wheelchair needs.

What they need is an extension of the existing playground with equipment adapted for special needs kids, with a wheelchair-friendly surface.

They don’t want a separate playground, because that would be counter to the school’s inclusion policy; the design under consideration would add a new section on the side of the playground facing 29th Street and would include several pieces of equipment suitable for all children, including those with special needs.

The existing playground would remain mostly unchanged, but children — whether special-needs or not — could run, walk or wheel from one to the other and mingle freely.

School officials envision making the playground open to the community outside school hours and in the summer, Moore said. That would encourage parents of special needs children to bring their kids there, she said.

The surface they are considering is a tough yet springy composition on which wheels will roll but forgiving in the event of falls. Unfortunately the surfacing roughly doubles the cost of the playground.

The school and its boosters have raised about $10,000 through donations and fundraisers and the district is prepared to kick in about $30,000, principal Bob Blankenship said. Further donations would be required for the rest of the approximately $58,000 cost.

District officials are talking to the city about chipping in as well, since the playground would serve the community.

Moore believes a playground should be a refuge where children don’t have to dwell on disabilities, lack of mobility or other issues that sometimes separate them from their schoolmates and friends. “Out here, you should just be able to play,” she said. “It’s the one time of day that kids should be able to be the same.”

Anyone who wants to donate may contact the school at (606) 327-2734. The school has set up an account for donations.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • News in brief, 07/24/14

    A Fleming County man was arrested on sex charges Tuesday by the Kentucky State Police.

    July 23, 2014

  • Boyd/Greenup backpack program turns 10

    For 10 years, the Ashland Alliance Young Professionals Association has been helping children start their school year off right.

    July 23, 2014

  • Area water plants recognized

    Water treatment plants across the state were recognized for consistently producing drinking water in 2013 that exceeded state and federal water quality standards, including the Rattlesnake Ridge Water District in Olive Hill and six others.

    July 23, 2014

  • City gives wastewater treatment plant operations to Greenup agency

    During joint special meetings of the Greenup Joint Sewer Agency and the Wurtland city commission on Tuesday, Wurtland agreed to hand over operations of its wastewater treatment plant to the agency.
    Pending the signing and approval of certain legal documents, plant operations will officially be under the GJSA on Aug. 1.

    July 23, 2014

  • Edelen studies fiscal health of rural hospitals

    On the fourth stop of his listening tour to address the fiscal health of rural hospitals, Adam Edelen said the crowd in Morehead was the largest he has seen yet.
    The big attendance attests to how seriously the region regards the issue of sustainability of local hospitals, he said.

    July 23, 2014

  • Putnam renovations ‘coming together’ as football season approaches

    Locker rooms are beginning to take shape at Putnam Stadium as rebuilding of the venerable arena nears completion.
    Workers are readying concrete forms on the home side and grading the site on the visitors’ side and soon will erect the structures, the goal to have them ready to use for the first home game of the 2014 season Aug. 22.

    July 23, 2014

  • Huntington man wanted for armed robbery

    The Ashland Police Department is searching for an 18-year-old Huntington man who was involved in an armed robbery last month.

    July 23, 2014

  • Detroit man arrested near Fairview

    A Detroit man was arrested Wednesday after an undercover drug buy near Fairview High School, the Boyd County Sheriff's Department reported.

    July 23, 2014

  • 0724putnamwebshot.JPG Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.

    July 23, 2014

  • Construction at Kentucky football stadium to go on

    The $110 million construction project at the University of Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium will continue through the upcoming football season with the goal of finishing renovations before the 2015 kickoff.

    July 23, 2014