March 25, 2019

California School Brings Inclusive Play to All Students with GameTime Playground

Every BODY Plays!

Bruce Elementary School in Santa Maria, California recently opened the district's first inclusive playground for its students. It began when teacher Lisa Johns noticed there wasn't enough for her students to do on the playground. As a teacher of children with special needs, she wanted a place where her Kindergarten, First and Second-grade students could play alongside their peers. "It just wasn't fair," Johns said. "I just wanted to find a way to get them more involved."

The playground at Bruce Elementary was accessible, but children who use mobility devices had a difficult time engaging in play. A new playground that provided play for people of all abilities was necessary to create a truly inclusive place for students. For help making it a reality, Johns and Bruce Elementary turned to GameTime. GameTime provided $150,000 in matching grant funds to refurbish the school's kindergarten and intermediate play area and to design one play area into the district's first all-inclusive playground. 

A student from Lisa Johns' class gets a hand as he walks across balance steps


The inclusive playground features ramped access throughout the play system to make it easier to explore all of the play area. Sensory panels and interactive games are installed throughout the play system and ground-level play activities promote social and interactive play for all students. With GameTime's accessible slides, students can transfer from a mobility device and experience the joy and benefits of sliding play.

Accessible ramps and slides make play possible for every student at Bruce Elementary


The play area also included new freestanding activities like GameTime's TriRunner that is part swing, part spinner. Children sit on the seats and swing as they spin around the center post. Punched steel panels at the top of the TriTunner cast playful shadows along the ground. It's a complete sensory play experience.

GameTime's TriRunner is a huge hit among the students of Bruce Elementary


For the first time, all of the students at Bruce Elementary have an opportunity to play together. "Some of the other students were pushing my students around [the playground]," said Lisa Johns. "Little by little, we're trying to get them used to this new playground." The new playground has become a backdrop for the school's disability awareness initiatives, which is helping students learn tolerance and acceptance. "My students learn from their peers how to act in a socially appropriate way," added Johns. "It's also good to teach the other students that nothing is wrong with them — they're just like you."

Learn more about GameTime's commitment to inclusive play at