Pictured are Hopewell Valley students Max and Ben Pollara, John Ferguson, Amelia Nayfield, Harrison Mylowe, and Sebastian Nayfield on the Hopewell Elementary School playground

With support of the Hopewell Valley Regional School District Administration, Hopewell Valley’s Special Education PTO is raising funds to make at least two playgrounds in the district universally accessible to all children by installing smooth, flexible rubberized surfaces under and around play equipment.

The Special Ed PTO has launched a drive to raise $135,000 to install the surfaces at two of the district’s playgrounds, locations to be determined by the district. While all of the playgrounds in the school district meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), installing rubberized surfaces would give physically disabled children full access to the playgrounds.

The rubberized surface will make a huge difference in the life of second grader John Ferguson. John enjoys racing around the blacktop in his motorized wheelchair with his classmates at Hopewell Elementary School. However, when it comes to approaching the playground equipment, where many of his friends play, his motorized wheelchair cannot navigate the uneven shifting wood-chip terrain now in place.

“We would just like children like John to have free access to the playground and their friends, just like any other 8-year-old,” said Caroline Ferguson, John’s mother and vice-president of fundraising for the Special Ed PTO. “He has a restricted lifestyle, being in his chair, and it is more restricted when he can’t access the playground. Kids want to play and be with their friends if they are in a wheelchair or not.”

The district has budgeted $20,000 for the new playground surfaces. The Special Ed PTO aims to raise the rest of the funds from individual donations, corporate grants and other sources.

“We are delighted to work with the District to ensure that every child has the right and ability to access the playground in the safest possible way,” said Special Ed PTO President Alicia Nayfield. “Giving children with physical disabilities full access to the playground at recess enriches their lives and the lives of the children who play with them.”

10819864_10152883774446972_2049923383_oThe Special Ed PTO hopes to reach the fundraising goal and install the surfaces by the start of the 2015 school year. For more information or to donate online, visit the Special Ed PTO website, Or, send a check to the HVRSD Special Ed PTO, c/o Pupil Services, 425 S. Main St., Pennington, N.J., 08534. The PTO can be reached via email at Also, look for this logo for locations to donate.



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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Binghamton and a Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall Law School. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, creative endeavors, and photographing mushrooms. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), holds a seat on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, and is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance.


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