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Fundraiser scheduled for playground

BY LINDLEY ESTES

All Jennifer Gaston–Smith’s son wanted at the early-childhood and special- education program he attended in King George  was a big, yellow slide to use during recess.

But the school doesn’t have a playground, and even if it did, he wouldn’t have been able to use it because he has spina bifida.

Gaston–Smith noticed that students like her son could not play outdoors, so she formed a PTA group for parents of preschool and special-needs children in King George whose voices, she said, were not being heard.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Saturday,  the group is holding its first fundraising event, a rummage sale and raffle at the King George School Board office to raise money for a playground that is age and ability appropriate for the children who attend the preschool there.

Her son, who will be too old to attend the school next year, probably won’t ever play on the equipment during recess. But Gaston–Smith said she wants to help  other children in a similar situation.

“I’m just a concerned mom,” she said.

The PTA hopes to build a playground with ADA-certified materials and equipment such as swings with harnesses and ground cover that would allow children in wheelchairs to be mobile, as well. The cost for the project starts at $10,000.

“We just want recognition that kids with disabilities are as valuable as any other child and can play outside like any other child,” she said.

The rummage sale and raffle will feature more than 45 tables of sale items.

Walmart, Howard’s, Home Depot and Big Dog Outfitters have all donated gift cards or merchandise to be raffled.

She said the big prizes include $100 gift cards to Walmart and Home Depot, a certificate for pottery classes in Colonial Beach and handmade holiday decorations.

“It would be huge if they could get a playground,” Gaston–Smith said. “This is a population that has been neglected, and we can change that.”

Lindley Estes:  540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

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