New Inclusive Playground Planned for the Delaney School
Computer generated design of the proposed new playground. Wrentham Public Schools.
Fundraising for the Project has Started
By Grace Allen
Wrentham’s youngest residents may soon have a new playground to call their own. The Delaney School recently unveiled plans to replace the existing preschool playground with a developmentally appropriate and inclusive space for ages 2.5 to 5.
If all goes according to plan, the new playground, which will cost $260,000, will open in the fall.
The existing preschool playground is 25 years old and has seen better days. Playground equipment generally lasts about 20 years before needing to be replaced.
More importantly, the new preschool playground will cater to children of all abilities, including those with special needs. Accessible and inclusive playgrounds ensure that children in any wheeled device, from wheelchairs to walkers to strollers, can navigate the structures, and that all children—including those with physical and developmental disabilities--can engage with the equipment while playing with their peers.
Ellen White, Director of Student Services for Wrentham Public Schools, says the new preschool playground will be based on universal design principles and will include a carousel at ground level, an accessible swing for children with low muscle tone, musical instruments, multi-sensory areas, a sandbox, and a shade structure. The major play structure will have different access points.
A special turf surface has been chosen for its impact absorption, safety, and easy accessibility for children with mobility needs.
White points out that the current preschool playground at the Delaney School is the onlyplayground in Wrentham specifically dedicated to the town’s youngest children. The area, enclosed within the existing Delaney School playground for older children, has a footprint of 75 by 45 feet.
After the new playground is installed, it will be open to the public whenever school is not in session.
A committee tasked with researching features and needs of a new playground was formed in the spring of 2023. Chaired by Delaney School Principal Kathleen Mahoney and White, committee members include special educators, parents, a physical therapist, school administrators, and the head of the school’s maintenance department.
The group visited area playgrounds over the summer, some members bringing their own children, and observed the types of equipment children naturally gravitated to. Playground designers were then invited to present to the committee, and a vision for the new playground began to coalesce.
“The committee is a well-rounded group with different perspectives,” said White. “It was a very thorough process, and we all feel really good about the final result.”
Commercial playground equipment manufacturer and distributor KOMPAN was eventually chosen to design and install the new playground. The company installed the playground at the Rice Complex, as well as the playgrounds for older children at both the Delaney and Roderick schools.
A letter-writing campaign to solicit donations from local businesses has started, and a GoFundMe page has been established. Community fundraisers are also being planned, noted White.
If there’s a shortfall, the committee will try to secure money from the Community Preservation Fund to complete the project.
“Our timeline is ambitious,” acknowledged White. “We do recognize it’s a tremendous amount of money, but we know the playground will be very well engineered and will stand the test of time. This really will be a great playground for all learners and children of all abilities.”
For more information about the project, visit wrentham.k12.ma.us and click on “Delaney Preschool Playground Project.” Ways to donate to the project are listed at the end of the project page, including a link to the GoFundMe page.
Donors of $1,000 or more will be listed on a plaque, and donors of $5,000 and above will receive additional recognition and an invitation to the groundbreaking ceremony.