Until recently, Kaden Bowen was a bystander at recess.
His wheelchair couldn’t manage the steps or the ladders, so he watched his classmates climb and swing and slide.
On Tuesday, his mom pushed his wheelchair up a ramp and onto the newest piece of Kloefkorn Elementary (Nebraska) playground equipment -- the only one of its kind at LPS.
Several of his classmates followed suit. They hung on, they jumped up and down, the oversized teeter-totter tilted back and forth -- and Kaden grinned.
That grin was made possible by a $55,000 renovation of the Kloefkorn playground, an update that went beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“What’s important about this is it’s not about being accessible, it’s about being inclusive,” said Susan Stibal, a Kloefkorn mom who headed the renovation effort.
ADA requires playgrounds be accessible, a standard met essentially as long as students can touch and stand under the equipment, Stibal said. That’s entirely different than being able to play on it, she said, to be a part of the swarm of children climbing and sliding, teetering and tottering.
Stibal knows something about this, because -- until three years ago -- the playground slide was off limits to her daughter, Lily.