Laurel Ridge Elementary playground gets an upgrade

6:42 PM, Aug 26, 2013   |    comments
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DECATUR, Ga. -- Total playground accessibility is a must for all school children.

But when budgets and other priorities put on the brakes, the schools and their parent groups often turn to the 11Alive Help Desk.

We often reach out the private sector to fill in the gaps. And that's just what happened at the Laurel Ridge Elementary School in Decatur.

Seventeen of the 435 children are wheelchair bound and have to be lifted in and out of the designated play areas.

Parents contacted us and wanted things changed.

"Make it more fun. That's what kids need and these kids need it more than anybody," said Karen Holt, a Laurel Ridge parent.

Laurel Ridge Principal Beth Kyle agreed. 

"Some better ground cover for especially the motorized wheelchairs. The wooden chips get stuck in the there," she said.

So the Help Desk reached out to home improvement giant Lowe's to help Laurel Ridge take a major step up for the wheelchair bound youngsters.

"The mulch and areas need to be replaced. Pushing a wheelchair or motorized wheel chair through there is not conducive, it's not safe," said Brad Thompson, a Lowe's Atlanta store manager who came out to Laurel Ridge to take a personal survey of the School's playground needs.

Thompson added that one area of the playground needed a separate ramp, and said when it came to play equipment, "the items that are here are not very interactive, not stimulating, not challenging, quite boring objects, so we are going to get feedback from the parents and the kids to see what they want."

And that's just what Thompson did. He started with Najee Smother, a 6-year-old wheelchair bound student.

What did he want most in the playground?

"Monkey bars. Monkey bars." he said.

"It's an all-time favorite and we can make monkey bars happen," Thompson said.

And Smother quickly added "a slide."

Thompson was quick to respond.

"Slides come easy and we will get one there.

Along with that new slide and those monkey bars, a Lowes team of 35 to 45 will be making some big changes at Laurel Ridge.

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