The playground at McBride Elementary in Springfield has been named the best all-inclusive playground in the nation, according to a study by Soliant, a school and health care staffing company.
Mr. Nick’s Inclusive Playground was built to honor the life and legacy of Nick Hostler, a special education teacher who died in 2018.
“Nick had a gift,” McBride Principal Lael Streight said in a release. “He saw the possibilities in all of us and then challenged us with questions to do better. Nick was a changemaker. He had a gifted ability to connect to students and to change lives. He did that here at McBride, and in his honor, we hope to change lives with this playground.”
The playground was completed in the fall of 2020.
It was designed so that all of McBride students can play together, side by side, throughout the playground, regardless of their ability, the release said.
Some of the most popular features are the playground’s zipline, inclusive whirl, the maypole and universal swings. The playground has interactive panels, which include animal sounds and a keyboard.
“Recess for all students is a fun time at McBride,” the release said. “However, the playground is also used for physical education classes and adaptive P.E.”
Plans to create an inclusive playground started out with a goal of adding one piece of inclusive play equipment. But thanks to donors, fundraisers and grants, more than $500,000 was raised to purchase equipment and for construction costs.
The playground is located at McBride Elementary at 5005 S. Farm Rd. 135 in southwest Springfield. It is open to the public except during school hours.