Stay and Play Stage 3 complete

Published 2:44 pm Saturday, October 6, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Another chapter ends for Stay and Play at Little Cypress Intermediate (LCI), the only all-inclusive playground in Orange County.

Phase 2 was completed in 2016 also marked the installation of playground equipment for all levels of child development and the children can finally enjoy the hard work of LCI School Nurse Kelly Meadows and Life Skills teacher Rachel Choate Scarchilli.

Phase 3 provided a covering for the area so children sensitive to the sun would be able to enjoy the play area. The covering will also extend the life of the equipment and decrease the heat while the students play. It also includes security cameras and the completion of the signs

The dream began with a conversation and over the years has become a reality.

“This is a momentous occasion,” Superintendent Dr. Pauline Hargrove said. “This year’s theme is making moments matter. The journey to turn this dream into reality one did not do by oneself.”

Prior to the enclosed area, the LIFE Skills students did not have an outside area to help with the development of gross motor skills. The area now provides a safe environment for the children.

Each stage of the project was paid for before construction began. With private donations, donations from local business and grants, the play area is an asset to the community.

Director of Special Programs Buffy Knight said the project will have a momentous impact on generations of children.

“It promotes health and wellness in an enclosed, safe environment,” Knight said. “We all need social interaction. Here siblings can come with their special needs siblings. It brings awareness of children with disadvantages. This is generations of fun.”

Justine Gaston, one of several donors, spoke of how a playground could have changed her interactions with her autistic brother who passed away at 16, approximately 30 years ago.

“Playing is something we all take for granted,” Gaston said. “This is something to help everybody and the community.”