AMHERST — Town and school officials — and most importantly, children — gathered Monday to celebrate the opening of a new accessible playground just for preschoolers at Crocker Farm Elementary School.
The new playground and its equipment are designed to meet the developmental needs of students with and without disabilities and came in at a cost of about $285,000 funded through Community Preservation Act money, town capital spending and a grant by the Amherst Education Foundation.
The playscape replaces the former playground, which offered students little more than shovels and rocks to play with, school officials said.
Crocker Farm’s about 70 preschool students are divided into classes of 15. About half of those students are those with special needs, while the other half do not have special needs, who serve as “role models.”
The playground is next to several preschool classrooms and features canopies, woodchip and rubber surfaces, stations for sand and water play and several climbing structures.
Teacher Linda Prothers said the playground’s features are geared toward the sensory, motor-skill, physical and social development needs unique to preschool-aged children. The merry-go-ground-like “spinner” for example, can serve as an “organizing activity” for some children. And the wood chips and gravel provide an opportunity to help children develop motor skills, she said.