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Efforts underway

Greg Mellen

Oct 9, 2023

Efforts underway at Clarence Lobo Elementary to create playground for all.

Play and recess should be available to every child. Often the best part of the day in elementary school is recess, when children are released to the abandon, delight, and life lessons of playtime.

Sadly, too often certain children, whether due to cognitive, physical disabilities, social anxieties, or other reasons, are excluded.

When Amanda Hicks, a paraeducator and parent at Clarence Lobo Elementary, saw her two special needs kids unable to join in, as well as a child in a wheelchair, it nearly broke her heart. Her son occasionally wanders near the playground and watches the others at play.

“That was my drive,” she said of changing things. “We need a space where everyone can play, even if it’s parallel. This puts all kids in the mix.”

Hicks now has the school, Capistrano Unified School District, fellow parent and PTA member Michelle Zeigler, and a recently created nonprofit working toward the goal of building a playground at Lobo Elementary that’s accessible to all.

One morning, Hicks says, while scouring the internet at about 3 a.m., she found on TikTok of all places, a recently launched nonprofit called The Recess Project, whose mission is to increase inclusion during recess periods by providing equipment.

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