Fair Oaks Ranch School unveils new playground

Fair Oaks principal Julie McBride, Sulphur Springs Union School District’s superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi and board members Ken Chase and Denis DeFigueiredo cut the ribbon with students to unveil the new playground. Victor Corral Martinez/The Signal

On the 20th anniversary of Fair Oaks Ranch Community School, students rushed over to play on the newly unveiled and inclusive playground after the ribbon-cutting ceremony was completed and recess began. 

Fair Oaks Ranch Principal Julie McBride, with Sulphur Springs Union School District Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi and board President Ken Chase, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

The playground was designed for inclusive play to allow all students to enjoy the playground regardless of impairment or disability. Sun Country Playgrounds created the playground with the direct involvement of Kawaguchi. 

“It’s not just another playground, it’s an inclusive playground, which means it’s designed for kids of all abilities,” said Timothy Hollinger, president of Santa Clarita Valley-based Sun Country Playgrounds. “The goal here is not to leave a kid out because they can’t walk well or have some type of disability.” 

The new playground was designed to incorporate the six elements of play: swinging, sliding, spinning, climbing, balancing and brachiating, according to Hollinger. 

Students at Fair Oaks Ranch Community School playing for the first time on the new playground. Victor Corral Martinez/The Signal

McBride thanked Kawaguchi for providing the school with an inclusive playground built rapidly for the students. She said construction began on Oct. 6, with students anticipating the completion of the playground. 

The playground features rock walls, multiple slides, benches, musical activities and accessible ramps and other inclusive activities, according to McBride. 

“I think we have so many elements for our children, to not only have an ability to move physically, but also to play with their friends and have that social interaction,” McBride said. “They really are continuing to build relationships out here on the play structure.” 

Students saw the different structures get built on the playground weekly instead of having it completed over the summer when students were not around, which made the students excited to try out the playground, according to McBride. 

Students at Fair Oaks Ranch Community School playing for the first time on the new playground. Victor Corral Martinez/The Signal

McBride and Hollinger credited Kawaguchi for taking an active role in the design and planning of the playground from start to finish. The district board also thanked her for setting a goal of creating an inclusive playground for all students. 

“This playground is truly a gift to the Fair Oaks Ranch students,” Kawaguchi said. “It’s an inclusive playground because it includes all students.” 

The goal for the Sulphur Springs district is to be inclusive by allowing students to tap into all their senses and learn through play, regardless of impairments, according to Kawaguchi. 

Chase said all-inclusive playgrounds had previously been constructed at other elementary schools, and he feels it’s essential for all kids to be able to use the playground.  

Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi and Fair Oaks Ranch Community School principal, Julie McBride try the new slides on the playground. Victor Corral Martinez/The Signal

“Some of the kids have never had the opportunity to be on a playground before and it’s great to see that this playground is able to accommodate so many children,” Chase said. “It has a lot of great functions, but the best thing is it’s just great for the kids to have fun on it.” 

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