Inclusive school, playground a dream of Gates preschool owner

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GATES, N.Y. – One preschool owner has a plan to become more inclusive.

Imagination Childcare Academy, in the former Holy Ghost School on Coldwater Road in Gates, is looking to expand its school and its playground to help students with different abilities.

Owner Erin Medlar says she has always wanted to help children with different abilities.

“I never want to have to say goodbye to a child. I want to be able to meet their needs here. Currently, we have some kiddos with some significant needs and we don’t have the resources here to help them,” Medlar said.

Now, Medlar is changing that.

“We’ll be able to have [occupational therapy] teachers on staff, [physical therapy] teachers on staff, special ed teachers on staff,” Medlar said.

But it isn’t just the educational elements that will have to change.

Medlar is creating a new, fully inclusive playground.

“It will include so many features, not just for kiddos with physical impairments, but also for children who are non-verbal, children who have sensory needs. There will be a sensory tunnel,” Medlar said.

The playground won’t be just for the students. Any child who wants to play on it can.

“If I was to ever sell the property, I will be gifting the playground piece to the town of Gates so that it can continue to be used as a public playground,” Medlar said.

Medlar says the project will cost $1 million and the school is currently looking for different ways to raise that money.

You can donate or learn more about the school’s mission here.