ADA-approved playground on fast track at Sargent Center


At this point it’s hard to believe a concrete pad is the foundation for a playground and recreation area to serve the students of the Sargent Rehabilitation Center.

It could be a parking lot, a patio, maybe even a tennis court, but a playground for children with disabilities? But, of course, explains Sargent’s director of development, Holly Damm, this is the foundation. Colored soft tiles will cover the area.

And given the ambitious schedule, the certified “green” ADA-approved playground and sensory reflection garden will be in place for an official ribbon cutting ceremony on May 15. In addition to the sensory garden where children with severe sensory and motor disabilities will gain the tactile experience of different fauna, there will also be a water play area and basketball hoop for more conventional recreation.

The playground and garden have been longtime dreams and now that they are about to be realized, the center is pulling out the stops. In groundbreaking ceremonies April 13, middle and high school students buried time capsules that included a number of facts about life today to be unearthed in 100 years. The capsules are beneath the cement, but will be marked with special tiles so their location is known. Pieces of playground equipment will start arriving in stages this week. Each piece or section has been adopted by the lower school children that will don hard hats to inspect the pieces to ensure they are up to specifications. Once the equipment is installed, the children will finish the installation by pounding on the plastic “donut cap” with rubber mallets.

The $179,000 project, designed by JP LaRue, Inc Back to Basic Play, has been made possible with a combination of grants, the largest being $70,000 from the Champlin Foundations. Funding has also come from the June Rockwell Levy Foundation, The Fogarty Foundation, Ocean State Charities, RI Legislative Grant and Sargent Center Capital Campaign and fundraising events.

Sargent Center specializes in providing rehabilitation and education services to assist children and adults in gaining skills to lead productive lives. The Center offers a Pediatric Institute for children with autism and other complicated neurologic disorders, a Neuro-Rehabilitation Center for adolescents and adults who have suffered traumatic brain injuries and strokes, a Diagnostic Center for specialized pediatric and adult evaluations, and a Consultant Group for consult/education services to families, professionals and schools.

Its day school serves more than 60 students and 15 adolescents with traumatic brain injury.


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