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posted: 7/16/2012 5:29 PM

New playground being built at Lake Zurich school to help preschoolers with special needs

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  • A backhoe, from Chicagoland Paving in Lake Zurich, works on the area for the new playground and parking lot Monday at May Whitney School in Lake Zurich.

       A backhoe, from Chicagoland Paving in Lake Zurich, works on the area for the new playground and parking lot Monday at May Whitney School in Lake Zurich.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

By Jennifer Earl

A Lake Zurich elementary school will offer students a little more room to play next year.

A $118,000 project to install a new playground is under way at May Whitney Elementary School, 100 Church Street, where it will serve preschool-age students receiving special education services, said Erin Pittman, assistant superintendent of student services for Lake Zurich Unit District 95.

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"The equipment is age and developmentally appropriate for younger students," Pittman said. "It will help them increase balance, coordination, gross motor skills, imagination, socialization, spatial awareness, and self confidence."

Spokeswoman Jean Malek said the school's early childhood program, which serves 3- to 5-year-old students with disabilities, is the only preschool program in the district for students who have been identified as needing an early intervention type of service.

The playground will have rubberized play surfaces, swings, climbing and play structures that are built to be easily accessible for these special needs children, Malek said.

The new playground will join several others that have been built in recent years in the area.

Last May, a new playground at Alcott Park in Buffalo Grove was also built for preschool-age children. It was dedicated to Lexi Kazian, who was born with severe brain damage in 2002.

Pittman said it's important for students to have fully accessible playgrounds for safety and learning reasons.

Malek said the students can also share the blacktop area next to the playgrounds that is being expanded to serve all children.

"We're giving the kids a little more room to play basketball, four square, and jump rope," she said. "It was a little bit small."

The district will also add concrete and curbing to the school's current bus loading area to make it safer for kids who are being dropped off.

The project will be completed before the new school year begins. The full cost of the Early Childhood playground is being covered by a grant under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

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