Buddies band together for inclusive playgrounds

05/15/19 05:33:pm
| Category: Service Learning

As part of their ongoing service learning partnership with Shane's Inspiration, an organization which designs and builds inclusive playgrounds for students of all physical and developmental abilities, Upper School 1 students worked in digital literacy and advisory classes to design their own inclusive playgrounds. Using a variety of materials, some of them physical and some rendered digitally, the students used their empathy and the knowledge gained from visits to Shane's Inspiration playgrounds to make their own prototypes.

As the process wound to a close, they got some valuable help from some inventive friends: their Second Grade buddies.

"In the Lower School, we have traditionally had a buddy program for our kindergarten and Room 4 students as well as First grade and Room 5," said Stephanie Leung, Head of Lower School. "This year, we have expanded our program to include Second Grade grade and US 1 so that their relationships built starting in Kindergarten can continue. This creates pathways for students to stay connected, mentor, and be mentored by others in our community."

In terms of the Shane's Inspiration projects, this took the form of dedicating an advisory period spread across the ID Lab and McDaniel Library spaces where the US1 students presented the playgrounds to their buddies. "Our service learning theme for US1 is ability and inclusion," explained US1 advisor and Mathematics Teacher Alyssa Wray. "The US1 students had a great time explaining their thought process and design to their Second Grade buddies, some of whom even gave great ideas and suggestions for the US1 students to implement. "

While the playgrounds themselves were impressive, it was the leadership and connectivity on display in these spaces that stood out to many gathered to watch the students that day. "This really creates leadership opportunities for our US1 students," said Director of Inclusivity and Equity Connie Chiu. "The program builds relationships between the two divisions which can last throughout the rest of each of their trajectories in their respective divisions."

The students had a chance to show off their work to their Upper School peers when they were displayed during Peace and Social Justice Day in the amphitheater.