Elementary Kids Are Raising $20,000 For An Inclusive Playground For Their Classmate

by Jerriann Sullivan
Originally Published: 
Tobey Elementary Students
Image via YouTube.

Tobey Elementary students raising $20,000 so fellow student can play with them

A thoughtful group of kids in Michigan are renewing our hope in humanity. The elementary students are raising $20,000 so their school can build an inclusive playground after noticing one of their classmates can’t play with them.

Hannah Cook is an adorable five-year-old who also happens to have cerebral palsy. One day she was playing in the sandbox with her aid at her school, Tobey Elementary in Vicksburg, Michigan. A group of fifth graders realized she wasn’t with her fellow kindergartners and wanted to find out why.

“Every time I see her she always likes to walk by me and wave,” 5th grader Carcel Tharge told Fox17. “She always has the aide of another teacher. So me and my friend Trevor felt kind of bad.” Little Hannah uses leg braces and a walker and because of that she can’t play on the school’s current playground, which isn’t accessible to kids with a variety of disabilities. Tharge added, “I go over and run to my friends and I’m like ‘well is the school going to do anything?’ I’m pretty sure they are.”

A lot of schools don’t include the costs for a fully accessible playground in their budgets, The Mighty reported. But thanks to these fifth-graders, the school is well on its way to doing something. School principal, Mike Barwegen, alongside the motivated students, set up a GoFundMe page and started spreading the news about their desire to build a proper playground for Hannah and kids like her.

“Through all of this Hannah has remained the sweetest, most compassionate 5-year-old girl you will ever meet,” the kids wrote on their online fundraising page. “She cares so much for others and her smile and spirit lights up every room she walks into.” These awesome kids even created a 30 second video so they could reach more people and share their plan online.

The campaign is going amazing, and the kids have already raised $15,000. While they work on their goal, the students at Tobey Elementary have been creating cards for Hannah, who’s currently recovering from surgery. This group of caring kids hope to surprise Hannah with the new playground when she comes back to school in mid-November.

“There’s going to be a ramp so she can walk up it with her walker,” fifth grader Natalie Balkema explained. “There’s going to be a little slide that she can go down and accessible swings for her. And everyone can play on that so she feels, you know, like part of the group.”

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