A Place Where All Kids Can Play, Regardless of Differences

A new, more inclusive playground at ACES Village School will enable all students, including those with visual impairments, to play with their friends.

The new inclusive playground at ACES Village School will create an accessible space for children of different abilities to explore, play and increase their emotional, intellectual, physical and social development. Photo Courtesy of ACES

Rose Morrow was a beloved assistant principal at ACES Village School in North Haven. When she would look out her office window, it brought her great joy to watch students play on an inclusive playground designed specifically for those with varying needs.

Though Rose passed away in 2016, her memory will live on in every spin of the "Tilt-A-Whirl" accessible merry-go-round as a newly-constructed, inclusive playground will soon be launched in her honor.

Thanks to a handful of funds established decades ago in which Community Foundation donors state a preference that grants be made for the benefit of the visually impaired, a recent grant awarded to ACES Village School will help make the construction of the new playground a reality. (Learn more about the funds, and about the other six organizations which also received funding.)

At ACES Village School, the funding will go toward the purchase of playground equipment, such as contrasting floor surfaces and ramps, that will support students with visual impairments.

"These items, and the playground itself, will provide a more equitable experience for all ACES Village School students,” says ACES Executive Director Dr. Thomas Danehy. "ACES is grateful to The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven for their generous grant award."

An official ribbon cutting ceremony for the new, inclusive playground at ACES Village School is planned for the Fall of 2022. Photo Courtesy of ACES

The new, more inclusive playground includes equipment such as wheelchair ramps and handrails that will enable all students, including those with visual impairments, to play with their friends. It will also provide a space for teachers, occupational, physical and speech therapists to engage students in activities that will help ensure meaningful progress toward their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) goals and objectives in the areas of social emotional, gross motor, fine motor, communication, leisure skills and more.

But, most of all, it will be "a place where kids can be kids, regardless of their differences," as stated on the playground fundraiser page of the ACES Village School website.

ACES Village School provides collaborative educational, emotional, and physical services to children ages 3 to 14 years with a range of cognitive, physical, behavioral, language and medical challenges. The school celebrates the diversity of its student population through innovative and individualized instruction and offers a comprehensive program with inclusive service.

The previous playground at ACES Village School was built in 1999. In recent years, the well-loved playground began to display the need for upgrades, with multiple broken and hazardous sections. New construction has already begun, and an official ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for the Fall of 2022.

"Rose would have loved this new playground project," says Melissa Karp, ACES Grants Writer. "It is extremely fitting that this new playground will be named in her honor."