In a heartwarming celebration of inclusivity and accessibility, the Burlington County Special Services Schools District, Burlington County Commissioners and State Senator Troy Singleton, proudly opened a new all-inclusive playground at the Special Services School in Westampton.
The ribbon cutting marked a significant achievement and shared commitment to creating an environment that caters to the unique needs of special services children.
“This day signifies inclusion at the highest level,” Senator Singleton said during the ceremony earlier this month. “I congratulate our County Commissioners and the Burlington County Special Services Schools District for their work creating such an extraordinary place for all children to live out their dreams and cultivate their extraordinary talents. That’s what this playground is about. It’s about inclusion and a sense of belonging.”
The Robert Silcox Memorial Playground signifies the importance of providing an inclusive space for all children, including those with special needs. The approximately 12,500 square-feet accessible space has specially designed equipment, such as adaptive swings, sensory-friendly walls, chimes, slides and playhouses. These elements accommodate a range of abilities, making the playground an inviting and safe place where every child can experience the joy of play.
The playground will be used by Special Services students and the immediate school community but will also be open for public use when school is not in session.
The $1.3 million project was funded through a special cost-share agreement with the Burlington County Commissioners. The Burlington County Department of Public Works Construction Services Division assisted with site work and installation of the playground equipment.
“Burlington County is a premier destination for all people, and this state-of-the-art playground is an example of the commitment the Commissioners have made to providing accessibility,” said Burlington County Commissioner Deputy Director Tom Pullion. “The playground will become a treasured spot for children and adults across the county to visit and enjoy. I’m proud of the role our County played in bringing it from concept to reality and I look forward to seeing children use it for many years to come.”
“The opening of this inclusive playground reaffirms this district’s commitment to all students, no matter their ability. It will be an asset for our students, but also the larger community,” added Tyler Burrell, president of the combined Burlington County Special Services Schools District/Burlington County Institute of Technology Board of Education. “I’m thrilled that all our students and county children will have a safe place to learn, play and create lasting memories. This wouldn’t be possible without the help of our County Commissioners, Senator Singleton and all who worked on this project.”
The new playground serves as a living tribute to the late Robert Silcox, a dedicated former president and member of the combined BCSSSD/BCIT Board of Education for more than 40 years. His passion for the well-being of students, particularly those with special needs, was well-known and helped inspire this project. The playground is a testament to his legacy and commitment to fostering an inclusive environment.
Burlington County Special Services Schools District Superintendent Dr. Christopher Nagy said the playground project is the perfect demonstration of both the school district’s and County’s commitment to accessibility and ensuring all children have access to quality education and recreational facilities.
“A playground is not just a place; it’s an adventure waiting to happen. Beyond the joy of play, the playground serves as a platform for children to learn valuable life skills. It’s a space where they can share, collaborate and build friendships, contributing to their overall social and emotional development,” said Nagy. “Thanks to the support of the County and all our partners, we’ve succeeded in turning this long-awaited dream into a reality.”