Bloomingdale school wants special-needs playground

Updated 7/22/2011 5:05 AM

Parents and staff at Bloomingdale's DuJardin Elementary School are raising money to build a $300,000 playground that will be accessible to special-needs students.

More than 30 students at DuJardin have special needs, and many are in wheelchairs, parent and volunteer Sally Litt said.


"Right now there is just one swing that can accommodate them, and that's if a teacher is available to put them in the swing," Litt said. "It doesn't promote our vision of playground fun for everyone."

Volunteers are collaborating with the Bloomingdale District 13 Educational Foundation to raise money for the project, which will require a new drainage system under the park, Litt said.

But another partner has joined the project, too: Marklund, a nonprofit group that offers housing programs for people with severe developmental disabilities.

Marklund's Bloomingdale home and day school is next to DuJardin and the group is helping raise money from corporations and secure grants for the project so its nearly 40 students also can use the playground.

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The Marklund and DuJardin properties already are connected by a walkway, so the partnership is a natural fit, said Vicki Krystof, Marklund's director of development.

"We're very excited to collaborate to make this happen," she said. "It's something that can benefit the community as a whole. Anyone can come and enjoy this playground."

To begin community fundraising for the project, DuJardin will sponsor a barbecue from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 26 at the school, 166 S. Euclid Ave. Litt said the entrance fee will be a freewill donation and there will be food and activities such as rides and bounce houses available for an additional cost.

The school also plans to sponsor a jog-athon in September during school hours, with all pledge profits going toward the playground.

If fundraising goes as planned, organizers hope to break ground on the project next June and have the site ready for the 2012-13 school year. But Litt said it's too early to predict how much money will be raised.