Jamison Elementary’s Autistic-Support Playground Honors Special Ed Teacher Taken by Cancer


ASD playground Jamison Elementary School
Image via David Theil at Creative Commons.

The nonprofit organization Sauers Cares organized volunteers to construct an autistic-support playground at Jamison Elementary School. Designers laid out the space to reflect sensitivity toward students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), reports WFMZ 69 News. 

The playground memorializes Renee Ford, a Jamison special needs instructor who was particularly devoted to the students in her care. Ford passed away from complications related to breast cancer in January 2021. 

The project will enhance the existing playground with sensory-enriching features targeted specifically to the needs of children with ASD. 

They include a fountain, barefoot walkway, benches, and planters. A custom-made tactile wall will be installed later, and a complete second phase will add artificial turf and commercial-grade instruments from England. 

The water feature is particularly apt, echoing the high esteem in which Ford’s colleagues held her. 

“Her spirit was a fountain that encouraged and inspired everyone in her life,” noted Jamison Principal Matt Croyle. “The heart of our sensory garden will be Ford’s Fountain, a stone fountain that will be used to water the plants in our sensory garden and fill the garden with an ever-present relaxing whisper of splashing water. We see that fountain as symbolic of Renee.” 

This project, valued at over $40,000 but at no cost to the school, was made possible by the generous contributions from local businesses and community members. 

More on this heartfelt construction project is at WFMZ 69 News

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