The Gift of Play: Builders Partners With Cooper Elementary for an Inclusive Playground

By April 23, 2024News

As specialists in workers’ compensation insurance, we at Builders enjoy the unique opportunity to advocate for jobsite safety and guide workers injured on the job along their path to recovery. And this caring nature compels us to reach out even further still as active members of the local community. Year after year, Builders is involved in various local projects related to housing, veteran’s assistance, education, and other causes that align with our core values.

In 2023, Cooper Elementary School in Loganville, Georgia launched a mission to build an inclusive playground for their special needs students, who comprise nearly 20% of the school’s population and yet lack playground equipment safe enough for their physical challenges.

“Over the last 13 years, I have watched our special education program grow and grow. As we continue to enlarge our Special Education Department at Cooper Elementary, it has become very apparent that our students with special needs require support in all areas of their lives – including play.”

-George Kashella, Asst. Principal of Special Education


The Challenge, Up Close

On the Importance of Play

When people think of schoolyard fun and recess, people often assume that play activity serves to let rambunctious students blow off steam and tire themselves so they can sit down and pay attention in class. But play is essential to development, cognition, social interaction, and learning. In fact, study upon study have proven this over the years to confirm one thing: kids need play.

The trouble is, for some wheelchair-bound students or students living with motor challenges, the vibrant world of recess is often closed off to them. The joy, the memories, the critical thinking, and the social stimulation elude them, resulting in educational disparity – alongside the sobering thought of joyless children…which is just plain sad.

Unsatisfied with the status quo, Cooper Elementary School partnered with Builders, a leader in property and casualty insurance, and its employee impact group, Builders Gives Back. Our Builders Gives Back committee drives participation in charitable activities on both an individual and organizational level, regularly encouraging fundraising, volunteering, and other charitable opportunities. Joining forces, Cooper Elementary and Builders committed to giving the Gift of Play by planning, funding, and building an inclusive, or “adaptive” playground for the special needs student population. After settling on a playground design, funding became the next hurdle.

 

The Planned Inclusive (or “Adaptive”) Playground Design for Cooper Elementary

 

Cooper Rolls up Their Sleeves

Cooper Elementary initially conducted a multi-month fundraiser to collect enough funds to purchase smaller components of the playground such as the Cozy Dome, the Friendship Swing, and the Finger Maze Panel for a total of approximately $11,000. For their part, Builders’ Marketing Department assisted in the creation of signage that staff could color in as the funds were raised, for display in the lobby of the school.

“Communicating our vision with Builders early on was key, and it allowed us to plow forward with confidence. It has been a true blessing to work with Builders. They are committed to ‘paying it forward’ and truly want to make a difference in the community. They were spectacular to work with, and I can tell from all my years in education that these folks really care. They have a servant heart and it has been a pleasure to work with them.”

-George Kashella, Asst. Principal of Special Education

The entire project, however, is much more ambitious than the aforementioned fundraiser, and it was in developing a rapport and shared mission with George Kashella, Assistant Principle for Special Education, that Builders Gives Back was able to approach the sizeable funding goals and timeline for the inclusive playground project. George had plenty to say about the importance of play to a true and complete educational experience.

“Over the last 13 years, I have watched our special education program grow and grow,” George related. “As we continue to enlarge our Special Education Department at Cooper Elementary, it has become very apparent that our students with special needs require support in all areas of their lives – including play. Learning how to play is a critical skill that children need to grow and develop.”

George then pivoted to the solution, “Providing our students with the sensory input they need and the resources to express themselves through play will not only make their school experience more enjoyable but will also help prepare them to communicate and interact with the world.”

George went on to explain why Builders Gives Back complimented his efforts so well as a project partner. “Communicating our vision with Builders early on was key, and it allowed us to plow forward with confidence. It has been a true blessing to work with Builders. They are committed to ‘paying it forward’ and truly want to make a difference in the community. They were spectacular to work with, and I can tell from all my years in education that these folks really care. They have a ‘servant heart’ and it has been a pleasure to work with them,” George concluded.

 

The Challenge of Inclusive Play: No Small Price Tag

Though the cost for the inclusive playground exceeds $250,000, Builders and Cooper Elementary are committed to raising the lofty sum in order to provide Cooper’s students a priceless gift—the Gift of Play.

Our highly-motivated Builders Gives Back committee will hit the fundraising goals through a combination of corporate donations, internal drives for employee contributions, and by leveraging our vast network of Georgia agents who jump at the chance to invest back into their local communities.

“The very reason Builders exists is because the local communities we serve know we deliver on our promises. We take care of our injured workers, their families, and businesses across the nation as people, not just case numbers. And so, this special project became near and dear to my heart as yet another way we leave the communities we serve better than how we found them.”

-Todd Campbell, CEO and President of Builders

 

Participate Today!

Would you like to bring the Gift of Play to Cooper Elementary? It’s not too late! Donate today! Click here to begin!

 

I wanna spread some joy!

 

You may send your kind, tax-deductible gift above and receive a receipt for your participation.

You can also mail checks to:

GCPS Foundation Fund FBO Cooper Elementary Playground
Attn: Aaron C. Lupuloff
437 Old Peachtree Road NW
Suwanee GA 30024

Donors will be recognized on many digital channels and may share in any celebrations and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

Contact us for more details at info@bldrs.com.

To all of our generous donors:

Thank You!