Thompson building handicap-accessible playground

Thompson Middle School’s children with disabilities will soon have a place to play as ground is being broken on a new handicap accessible playground.

With grants and support from Gov. Bob Riley, the Shelby County Commission Parks and Recreation Division, the Shelby County Schools System and the city of Alabaster, the playground will feature a rubberized surface, a wheel chair swing, a multiperson swing, shade covering, balance beams, spinning seats, rings and more.

Other members of the community also worked diligently by donating funds and resources to ensure the playground would be built.

Some of those businesses and people include Bob Green Optical, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Philip and Rachel Bulford, Don Latham, Mike Hill, Cam Ward, Cawaco and the Master Gardeners of Shelby County.

Joyce Bulford, a Thompson Middle bus driver and substitute teacher, helped organize the effort after noticing the children with disabilities had limited options for physical recreation.

With the help of Rep. Ward, Bulford said funds were raised and the dream is now coming true.

“I don’t think we could have done this without (Ward’s) encouragement. Not once did he say ‘You can’t do that’ or ‘That won’t work,’” Bulford said. “I don’t think he realizes how much he’s helped.”

Ward was on hand Monday, Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. at the school to present a check. Thompson Middle Principal Melissa Youngblood said Ward and the entire community has come together to make this playground a reality for these children, and children who will grace the halls of TMS in the future.

“Cam Ward has just been so instrumental,” Youngblood said. “There wasn’t one person who said ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘I can’t help.’”

Youngblood said the children are what this project is all about, and it shows that anything can be accomplished when the children are put first.

“First and foremost, if I see a smile on the kids’ faces, then it’s a success,” Youngblood said.