The Harlingen Area Education Foundation donated funds to Sam Houston Elementary IB World School to add a wheelchair-accessible swing to their playground.
When the Mighty Eagle Student Council heard about the donation, they wanted to make their own contribution and expand on the project. The students voted to add an additional bay that would hold an accessible support swing for students who might need the extra support to enjoy a swing.
“Every student having access to the playground is important,” fifth-grader Melody Hawk said. “No one should feel left out. Everyone should have fun.”
Inspired by the HAEF donation and their International Baccalaureate learning, the students raised funds for this additional project by selling scented pencils.
“We thought about the children in our school who can’t get on the swings because they are in a wheelchair,” fifth-grade student council member Layla Loa said. “It is caring and open-minded to make sure everyone can go outside and have some fun.”
Student Council sponsor and fourth-grade teacher Roxanna Shimotsu recalled how the students reflected on their International Baccalaureate program experiences while they discussed ideas for the project.
“The students were passionate about including everyone in all aspects of our school in any way they could,” Shimotsu said. “The students overwhelmingly agreed and thought the additional swing would help include everyone in a loving and caring way. It brought tears to my eyes to see they had made those connections to the real world.”
Special Education teacher Genesis Campos was ecstatic when she heard that the school had received the grant for a wheelchair-accessible swing.
“I was excited that our children were finally going to get equipment that they could utilize that was specific for their needs,” Campos said. “Not only is it fun for them, but it also gives them opportunities to build their social and emotional skills, something that we work on daily through individual education plans.”
The staff plans on working with the students to expand on ideas for all-inclusive outdoor learning spaces at Sam Houston Elementary IB World School.
“We plan for grants to make accessibility to the swings easier,” Campos said. “And we’re also looking at adding a canopy to assist students in accessing it in hot weather as well as extend the life of the equipment.”
The HAEF is an independent non-profit organization that promotes quality education in Harlingen CISD schools. To date, the organization has provided more than $500,000 in grants and scholarships to advance educational programs and activities.