“Our field of dreams is actually going to happen,” Principal Charlene Cofer said during the ceremony.
Four years ago, special education teacher Michelle Rogers began pursuing grant funds for building a special needs playground.
Rogers said she was “extremely delighted” to see the playground becoming a reality. She started working toward the project during her first year at the school.
Funding for the project was pursued through writing letters to those in the community, applying for grants and fundraisers through local church partner Waterville Baptist Church.
After many rejected grant applications, Rogers said the Healthy Community Initiative grant was awarded to the school the third time it applied for it.
Additional funding for the project came through the school’s PTO and a grant from Proctor & Gamble Co.
Many community leaders were present to help Waterville celebrate the day. Among the guests were Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel, members of the Bradley County Board of Education, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis and the special education director for Bradley County, Tena Stone.
McDaniel said the playground filled a need at the school, and was something the school system had wanted to see happen for a long time. There are 24 special education students with profound disabilities at Waterville.
Three pieces of smaller equipment for the playground have already been purchased. Construction of the playground should be completed in three weeks, according to Cofer. The playground will be located behind the school and will feature a slide and swings on a rubberized surface. The area will also be wheelchair accessible. The pieces that have already been purchased will also be incorporated.
Cofer said she hopes the playground will also be used by other special needs children in the community.