Calera installs communication board at local park

Published 12:26 pm Monday, January 22, 2024

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

CALERA – The city of Calera successfully installed a new communication board at George Roy Recreational Park on Friday, Jan. 19.

The communication board, which has been installed next to the park’s main playground area, is the latest board to come to local parks and schools in recent years.

The purpose of such boards are to bridge communication gaps between children of all varying degrees of ability and to overcome language and other barriers through the use of symbols, pictures and simple words. These elements create a system of simplified communication that allow for free and open expression between children that otherwise might never be able to connect with one another.

“These boards empower non-verbal or minimally verbal individuals to express their thoughts, feelings and needs effectively,” read a release from the city.

The positive influence that comes from that new line of communication can extend beyond the simple play between children and can serve to promote senses of connection, awareness and inclusion throughout the community. Starting with the children, it can soon spread to communication among parents.

“By offering a structured and accessible method of communication, these boards enhance social interactions, foster independence and reduce frustration for both individuals with autism and those around them.”

In the same announcement that broke the news of the board’s installation, the city of Calera also announced its intention to install the boards at all of their current and future parks moving forward. However, no firm dates for the upcoming installations are available at this time.

It also announced that the city is currently in talks to erect a fully inclusive playground at an undetermined site in the city in the near future.

“Thank you to our Parks and Recreation department for your forward thinking and your willingness to serve the needs of our community,” read the release.

The boards installation garnered immediate and popular support on social media from members of the community.

“Thank you for doing this,” said Denise Bland Hudson, a former educator. “I worked in Special Education for 14 years, students would get so upset because they couldn’t get someone to understand what they wanted or needed.

Multiple parents and guardians of children with special needs also responded to the announcement with wide approval and support of the new addition.

“As a grandmother raising a special needs child who is not only nonverbal but wheelchair dependent, I think an inclusive playground would be an awesome addition to our city,” said Jeannie Cost, a resident of Calera. “All children deserve a chance to play on a playground.”