Project Playground – Making Playgrounds More Accessible at Lincoln School

Your name(s): Erica Witte,

Laura Skidmore, Reema Sinha

Organization: Project Playground

Location: Westfield, NJ

Contact Information:

Laura Skidmore

Can you provide a bit of history about your group? How long has it been around?

Project Playground was formed in September 2022 after we decided that it was time to create more accessible playgrounds at the Lincoln School in Westfield. As the public early childhood education center in Westfield, the Lincoln School is home to approximately 300 preschool and kindergarten students and is widely used by the children in our Westfield community. Currently, 70% of preschool students at Lincoln School have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and receive services, such as physical and occupational therapy. Play is an imperative part of the growth and development of children, but unfortunately, our playgrounds are not equipped with adequate accessible equipment for children to use, especially those with mobility challenges. Project Playground started the moment we realized that we wanted to change that.

What is the goal of Project Playground?

Many children will tell you that their favorite part of the school day is playing with their friends on the playground. Imagine standing on your school playground and watching your friends play, but not being able to join because there is no accessible equipment for you to use. Unfortunately, this is often the reality for students who use mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs. Our goal is to create a more accessible playground environment so that more children in our community can play together! The Lincoln School has two playgrounds, and while the playground closest to the school has limited accessible equipment, the larger playground across the field has no accessible equipment. This means that there are children who cannot access a majority of the pieces of equipment at these playgrounds. By adding more accessible equipment, a communication board, and access pathways on the playgrounds, we plan to create a more inclusive playground where more children can play with their peers. Playing with your friends is one of the best things about being a kid, so the goal of Project Playground is to ensure the children in our community can do just that.

What is the timeline?

We plan to order the accessible playground equipment by April 2023 to allow for delivery times. Playground construction is set to take place this summer and conclude before the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

Who is working on the project? It must be a big team effort, right?

Project Playground has the support of the Lincoln School PTO; the principal of the Lincoln School, Dr. Jacobson; and the support of a multidisciplinary team of Lincoln parents who are passionate about creating a more inclusive and more accessible playground in our community. We are working towards a goal of raising $100,000 in funds, which will allow us to purchase multiple pieces of accessible equipment, have this equipment installed, install pathways, and landscape.

We recently received the exciting news that The Westfield Foundation has awarded Project Playground with a grant of $50,000 and that the Optimist Club of Westfield has awarded Project Playground with a $2,500 grant. “We at The Westfield Foundation are so proud to support such a meaningful project that will help foster play, inclusion, and development for so many children throughout our town and surrounding areas,” Corey Wu-Jung, Vice President and Grants Chairperson of The Westfield Foundation.

It is a huge team effort, and we are thankful to have such a supportive and dedicated team! Each member of the team has a different skill set to contribute along with innovative ideas, and this turned our idea into a true initiative. As we move forward with this project, teamwork truly is our key to success.

These projects are never quite that easy! And this is a tremendous effort on behalf of the community! What challenges have you faced?

Building awareness is a big challenge! We are working on spreading the word about Project Playground throughout our community. The more people who support our initiative only helps its success.

The equipment is expensive! We took the time to carefully select several pieces of equipment that are accessible, fun, and will encourage imaginative play for the children in our community. However, those several pieces of equipment have a hefty price tag and require extensive fundraising.

Time! Finding the time in our already busy schedules to dedicate to this initiative is a hurdle, but not one we cannot overcome. As it turns out, once Project Playground started to take form, we jumped into action. We use every spare minute we can to dedicate to this project. We juggle schedules around work and our families to ensure that we dedicate the time necessary to make this project a reality.

Your group must feel really proud to volunteer for such a cause. Please share.

Erica: My son, Colin, a preschool student at Lincoln school, uses a walker for mobility. Playgrounds are typically places filled with joy and laughter. Every time I stood on the playground, I felt frustrated and to be honest, very sad, that the space was not accessible. This left my son with barely any options to play inclusively with other students in his class. Since we launched Project Playground, I am now so excited about the playground, the awareness that we are building and the changes that we plan to make! It has been so refreshing to connect with Laura, Reema and our 10-person committee who also deeply care about this cause and want to make a difference in our community.

Laura: As someone with a background in elementary and special education, I was instantly drawn to this project. Play is paramount to the development of young children. It is tied to social skills as well as fine and gross motor skills. As soon as I heard about the idea of Project Playground, my heart was immediately in it. I cannot wait to see the result, and I am incredibly proud that our group’s hard work and dedication to this project will provide the children in our community and the students at Lincoln School with more opportunities to play and use their imaginations together!

Reema: As a physical therapist (Faculty, Touro University – School of Health Sciences) and as a new resident of Westfield, NJ, the idea of independence and mobility for all children within our community has been at the forefront of my efforts towards this project. Independence as you traverse your school environment is one of the building blocks of development, and I watch my own two children grow and thrive in their school playgrounds. I felt very strongly that we could bind together as a community and make sure that all Lincoln School students enjoyed the freedom of play and full access to their playgrounds.

How can the neighbors get involved in Project Playground?

We can only make this dream into a reality with the support of our neighbors and our community! Our neighbors can donate towards the equipment and installation, attend one of our upcoming events, and/or donate their time by spreading the word about Project Playground. Once the playground is completed, we welcome you to come and use it!

Any other information you would like to include?

We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported us thus far and to future supporters. With your encouragement, donations, and assistance, we will have a more accessible playground where the children in our community can come together to play! We look forward to the smiles on each child’s face when they play on the updated Lincoln School playgrounds!

For more information about the Project Playground initiative and to donate, please visit:

To watch our video, please visit:


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