Hewitt Elementary School opens accessible playground

Posted at 5:50 PM, Oct 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-29 18:50:52-04

Hewitt Elementary School opened a 3,000-square-foot accessible playground last Monday.

Evonne Fraga couldn't wait to watch her 9-year-old son, Santiago, break it in.

"He's our little miracle and he's done so much more than doctors ever thought he would," Fraga said.

Santiago was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. His wheelchair often left him watching others during recess. This new accessible playground gives him freedom.

The playground includes a wheelchair glider swing, a wheelchair accessible ramp and lowered steps for playscape access for students with disabilities.

"He goes through so many doctors appointments and procedures and things like that," Fraga said. "To just see him be able to be a kid, it's a wonderful thing."

For many kids, 30 minutes on the playground is just a small part of their day, but Fraga sees the bigger picture. She believes this space will give her son the opportunity to grow.

"He's getting a workout in as well. He's having fun and he doesn't realize that the things he's able to do now are going to make him stronger," Fraga said. "It's going to help him make new friends. Having them all there together, I think it's going to make a difference."

The project was made possible through five years of fundraising for $65,000 from the Hewitt PTA, cement donated by JP Lowry Construction and $90,000 in matching funds provided by Midway’s Panther Kids program.

Hewitt Elementary Principal Christy Watley said the project was worth every cent.

"We wanted to make sure they had an inclusive playground to play in," Watley said. "It warms my heart. It just makes me feel so great to know that they're able to play together."

An older, separate structure at Hewitt Elementary offered accessible swings for the students. This new playground allows them to play in the same spot. 

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