LNLC playground becoming a reality

Published 1:55 pm Thursday, August 27, 2009

Students at the Linda Nolen Learning Center will soon have a playground to call their own, thanks in part to a $70,000 grant presented to the school Thursday by state Reps. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster and Mike Hill, R-Columbiana.

The idea to build an adaptive playground at the Linda Nolen Learning Center was the brainchild of Alabaster resident Roseanna Paulin, whose son, Joey, attends the LNLC.

Paulin’s son, Joey, suffers from Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy, a rare and terminal illness that prevents the boy from walking, talking, sitting or standing.

When the LNLC moved from its old location in Alabaster to its current location in the old Bradford Health Services building in Pelham over the summer, Paulin said she could not believe the new school did not have a playground.

“When the school moved here, I was mortified because every school needs a playground,” Paulin said. “I want my little boy to play on a playground.”

So, she began a letter-writing campaign and founded a group, the Playground Friends, with the mission of raising the $200,000 needed to build the playground.

“I just hit the ground running,” Paulin said. “And I don’t take no for an answer.”

Once Paulin first approached Hill and Ward, the two representatives began looking for funds and quickly identified money that could be used for such a project.

In addition to the $70,000, Paulin has also helped raise $10,000 in private donations.

Groundbreaking is expected to take place around Christmas.

“I’m still in awe,” Paulin said. “It’s just been less than a year since we started this.”

The playground will be similar to the adaptive playground built at Thompson Middle School, but with more custom-made equipment to meet the special needs of the school.

Katie Boyd, a LNLC adaptive physical education teacher, said the school needed somewhere else for the kids to go besides the gym.

“We want to have a place where there is something for everyone to play on,” Boyd said.

Michele Murray, a sixth-year teacher at the school, said a playground is great for all kids, and special needs kids need one just the same.

“The important thing is to allow them the opportunity to do the same things as everybody else,” Murray said.