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The wheelchair-accessible structure and new equipment highlight changes at the Newberg school.

COURTESY PHOTO: EDWARDS ELEMENTARY - After years of work to secure funding and eventually build new play structures on the Edwards Elementary playground, the project finally came to fruition as the school year drew to a close. After years of work to secure funding and eventually to build new play structures on the Edwards Elementary playground, the project finally came to fruition as the school year drew to a close. A trio of new structures are complete and await the return of students in the fall, with a particular focus on accessibility for students of all physical abilities.

Superintendent Joe Morelock celebrated the project's completion in his weekly memo to the community: "Wow! Such amazing work for years by the Edwards Volunteer Organization to raise funds and to partner with our amazing community to create a fantastic, accessible playground for our Edwards Elementary students and the Newberg community! It's truly unique in how it gives students of all abilities fun, active things to experience."

The effort to get the project done was led by Sarah Moore and Meghan Czarnecki, among other volunteers and community members. Community partners included the Chehalem Park & Recreation District, the Newberg Thrift Store, the local Rotary club and a number of charity organizations.

The largest play structure is the "Nucleus," which features four slides, a bridge, two rock-climbing pieces, 10 games and learning panels, and some additional accessories.

"When something is sized perfectly for us, it makes us feel special, safe and in our element," Edwards staff wrote in a description of the structure. "We think kids will love this structure that fits them perfectly and helps them find a space to rest, climb, learn and socialize. We were excited to add this piece as it serves some of our youngest Eagles and community kiddos. It was designed thinking of younger students and students that need stable accessibility. But it also serves our older kids, too."

The second structure is a musical one, designed for kids to collaborate and make their own songs while at recess that can be heard by their classmates around the playground. It features two large xylophones and some large chimes, with a variety of notes waiting to be played by youngsters.

"We were so excited to add this musical element to our playground," Edwards staff wrote. "It allows kids of every age and ability a chance to work together to create music that will radiate the playground. We are confident its hands-on and sensory appeal will serve our youth (and adults) well. Kids will be in love with its colors, touch and sound."

The third and arguably most innovative piece of equipment added to the Edwards playground is the "Cruiser," which provides an unusual experience that allows kids to sit on the large, movable structure and pretend they're on a ship or rocket. It is created with differently abled students in mind as well, with space for two wheelchairs to join in on the fun of rocking back and forth in imaginative play.

"This is a pretty magical piece," Edwards staff wrote. "For our littles it is a place to imagine they have boarded a pirate ship or rocket. Its rocking motion is perfect for a voyage at sea. For our older kids it is a great place to sit and hang out in the heart of the playground. It is approved for 2 years and up. It is also the vision of inclusive and invites up to two wheelchairs to join classmates."

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