By his third lap, Oscar Guzman’s stoic gaze transformed into an infectious smile as he explored his new digs.
“He’s really smiling now, this is a lot of fun,” observed Huy Nguyn, an occupational therapist who was ushering Guzman, a second-grader, around the new sensory therapeutic playground at Paul B. Stephens School.
Guzman was among a half dozen of the school’s students who attended a preview of Pinellas County School’s first sensory, therapeutic, wheelchair accessible playground during its soft opening on Tuesday.
The project, which took two years to complete, provides a unique set of interactive elements enabling children with different ranges of physical and mental abilities to play and thrive.
Designers used feedback from the school’s therapists to help meet students’ physical and mental health needs.
The specialized equipment also works on a student’s balance, mobility, walking, and communication skills all while having fun. Therapists, specialists and the school’s physical education teachers incorporate the playground into the students’ treatment plans.
• A Communication Core Board allows nonverbal students to communicate by pointing at symbols.
• Cozy cocoons spin, assist students with balance.
• A playhouse helps students work on standing and creative play.
• An Aero glider rocks back and forth for an amusement park ride experience.
• Circles and stars throughout the playground offer varying textures for sensory input.
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• Adaptive bikes give students the experience of riding a bike.
• Students in wheelchairs can access the playground at their level of play.
The playground is being officially dedicated at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday at Paul B. Stephens School in Clearwater.