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Reed district mom seeks changes to new playgrounds that sideline daughter with disabilities

Reed Elementary School kindergartner Alia Godfrey, who has cerebral palsy, isn’t able to use most elements of the new $600,000 playground structures unveiled last month. (Frank Fennema photo / For The Ark)

The Reed Union School District celebrated the long-awaited completion of two new playgrounds on the Reed Elementary School campus in late September with a series of photos posted to the district’s Instagram page, where students were shown climbing up spiraled ladders to access platforms and slides, walking single-file on a low-to-the-ground balance beam, playing on a domed climbing structure and scaling a rope wall.

“The brand new playground at Reed is proving to be a lot of fun for Reed Raccoons,” read the caption, referencing the school’s mascot.

But what pictures don’t show is the experience kindergartner Alia Godfrey has on the playgrounds, according to her mom, Lina. That photo would depict Alia, who has cerebral palsy, on the sidelines watching her peers play because very few of the playgrounds’ features are accessible to her in her wheelchair, Godfrey said.

“She can get near the playground and look at it but not really interact with it,” she said.

Godfrey is calling on the district to make changes to the Reed playgrounds, as well as another brand-new structure at Bel Aire Elementary School, to better provide inclusive play experiences for kids of all abilities — something district officials said they’re receptive to and in the preliminary stages of exploring. However, Godfrey said that while she’s hopeful some changes will come to fruition, she’s disheartened by what she sees as the district’s failure to fully consider the experiences of differently abled students in updating the decades-old structures.

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