Sunday, October 6, 2013

At Haisley School: A Playground for All

Over on the west side of Ann Arbor, Haisley School has some new additions to the playground. Haisley has several children who use wheelchairs at the school, as well as some kids with autism. In fact, the district has placed three self-contained classes at Haisley, and in addition there are several kids with disabilities who are in the general education classrooms.

I used to love to climb on these. Here's one at Haisley.
And for the kids with disabilities--especially the kids who use wheelchairs--it was difficult, if not impossible, to play on the playground. 

These are not accessible
These provide a similar ride,
but they are accessible

Compare these two play structures. Notice the ramp on the blue structure?
The red structure offers lots of opportunities for kids who can climb--
but not everyone can. It's nice to have both!

In the accessible play structure, there is room for a wheelchair to turn around.
Kids can climb in and out, but a kid in
a wheelchair will not fall out.
A view of the ramp.
An accessible swing--but I saw a lot of able-bodied kids enjoying it too.

The sinking fund paid for the costs of adding the accessible equipment ($60,000). Over the years, the teachers of Haisley's self-contained classrooms were concerned that their students have good playground choices. The playground was designed with both physical accessibility and the interests of children on the autism spectrum. A big thank you to teachers Lisa Piegdon, Erika Cech, Kim Krug and teachers assistant, Sue Monkiewicz, who advocated for--and helped plan--the playground.

I think recess is super important.

*All photos by Ruth Kraut, at the Haisley playground.

UPDATE 11/23/2013: Also, Sarah Kerson did a Michigan Radio Environment Report on this playground (read or listen to it here) and in that report, they mention that NPR has a map of accessible playgrounds around the country posted on its web site! [Here is the link.] If you find yourself traveling and looking for one, there is even a smartphone link at I added information about the Haisley Playground to the accessible playground web site. The other playground on there in the area is the High Point playground at the WISD. Slightly further away, there is also the Imagination Station in Brighton.


  1. This looks great! Thanks for taking the photos.

    I know a city park planner got flack for certain features at Allmendinger that were intended to increase accessibility - in part because people didn't realize all the rationale behind them. Hopefully the Haisley community is accepting and excited about the improvements!

  2. Ruth - thanks for highlighting this area. It's been incredibly important to have accessible equipment, especially given our programs at Haisley. Great job taking photos!

  3. AAPS is trying to pass a millage that includes new doors and surveillance equipment, while there's an inference that AAPS will continue buy playground equipment to meet IDEA, and yet, AAPS struggles mightily to meet IDEA in LRE in so many other tangible ways in the classroom with their problems with staffing issues, etc. The priorities are all backwards in this millage attempt. They look to spend on stuff, not staff.

  4. Maria, can you say more about IDEA and LRE? (What are they--I know that IDEA is a special education law.) And about the problems with their implementation in the district, too...

    It is true that the school board has said they may want to use the sinking fund for security measures that you and I don't agree with, and I actually didn't mean this to be a commentary on the sinking fund, but rather on the idea of accessible playgrounds. (Yes, the sinking fund can be used for good things and things I don't like. I'm hoping to get a complete list of everything it has been used for in the past go-round.)

    Unfortunately, the district cannot put up a millage for staffing, and that is a huge problem. Whether that means the district should have a millage for stuff is an open question--one idea is that some things that they need to maintain (say, leaking roofs) would need to be cared for anyway, so if they don't have the sinking fund millage the money would be taken from staffing.

    But anyway, this was not meant to be taking any position on the sinking fund, but I am taking a position that I'd like to see more accessible playgrounds.


  5. The district just got through repairing and replacing many building projects these last few years, so there's been upgrades,, though I doubt there was a make-work situation with that money. The housing market is better, so the district is getting more money from that. I strongly support a county wide school millage next year, though.
    IDEA stands for Individuals with Disabilities Act and LRE stand for Least Restrictive Environment.
    I refer you to WrightsLaw Special Education Law, Second Edition by Peter W.D. Wright, Esc and Pamela Darr Wright MA, MSW for more information.

  6. Can I post some of your pictures on the Arborwiki playground page for Haisley?

  7. Yes, you can use these pictures for arborwiki. Pictures I took and placed on here are under a creative commons license if you are not using it for profit--just give credit, please.