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The playground at the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities' Windfall School is a jumble of whimsical shapes and colors.
A giant boat sways under the shifting weight of children's feet and wheelchairs.
Other kids explore the interactive playhouse, wobble on the four-person teeter-totter, play at the sand and water tables, make music at the activity centers, and climb, slide and swing.
"They're out here working on their balance, their muscles, their sensory needs," said Faith King, assistant director of children's services.
"It's a safe place where they can freely play without someone hovering over them," she said.
She said the playground - which the school refers to as an outdoor learning area - offers multiple layers.
The students can enjoy playing on equipment that allows them independent access, which develops confidence and encourages them to try new skills. Play also offers a great outlet for kids who are non-verbal, she said.
It's also educational.
"Our kids need to move and groove in order to learn," King said.
And it provides a way for them to develop social skills, improve communication and learn to work and play with others.
"The skills they learn here, they can take to other, public playgrounds," King said.
And while the playground already offers a lot, it can always be better, said Community Relations Coordinator Patti Hetkey.
That's why the MCBDD was delighted in October when the Knights of Columbus, Brunswick Council #4847, presented the agency with a check for $1,352.78 to use toward playground improvements.
"Four years ago, the playground looked like something from the 1970s. It was desperately in need of an upgrade," Hetkey said.
The only things remaining from the original playground are a couple of old-fashioned rocking horses on springs.
"The horses are still a holdout, because we have kids who still love them," said Dr. Kaye Stanley-Bryson, director of children's services.
Stanley-Bryson said the school has redesigned the playground to better suit the students' physical and educational needs.
"We needed more things to be accessible to kids who use wheelchairs and walkers, and more sensory experiences for all of our students," she said.
Over the years, the school has added musical components, the water and sand tables, bouncy toys, adaptive swings and the interactive playhouse and boat climber.
The Knights of Columbus donation will be used to add an art-inspired seating area and a quiet memorial garden where staff, students and families can remember students who have passed away.
"We want to honor the kids we've lost," Stanley-Bryson said.
An artist will be commissioned to create a glass butterfly for each of these children.
"We want the memorial area to be filled with things that are joyful and create a nice memory," Stanley-Bryson said.
The Knights of Columbus raised the money through their annual Measure Up campaign. The statewide campaign raises about $370,000 for more than 322 agencies that sponsor a variety of training and support programs for people who have developmental disabilities.
Eighty percent of the money is returned to local councils for donation to agencies of their choice. Twenty percent is used for statewide programs.
"The services which the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides to the community - and especially to those with developmental disabilities - are so important, and we are happy to help this worthwhile organization to impact lives in Medina County," said Dennis Pastorelle, Measure Up event coordinator.
MCBDD Board President Sandra Thomas-Fain thanked the Knights of Columbus, saying, "It is so wonderful when our community takes time to support the individuals who receive our services."
Two members appointed to MCBDD
Medina County Probate Judge Kevin Dunn has appointed two new members to the MCBDD.
David Hartman and Sally Albrecht were sworn in during the week of Oct. 2.
The board is comprised of seven volunteer members who are appointed either by the judge or by the Medina County commissioners.
Hartman, a retired engineer and technical consultant, previously served on the board from 1998 to 2009. He has also served on the board of directors for Medina Creative Housing, Buckeye STEPS, the Medina County Federal Credit Union and the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers.
Albrecht has served as a Montville Township trustee since 2012. She owns and operates two businesses, one of which is A.I.D. Training, which specializes in Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities-approved training classes for employees of county boards and provider agencies. She is also an adjunct professor at Lorain County Community College.
This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared on Cleveland.com. The original story can be found at: http://www.cleveland.com/medina/index.ssf/2017/11/knights_of_columbus_donation_t.html
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