New Madison Co. playground helps kids communicate through new tool

CHITTENANGO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A playground in Madison County is working to help those with special needs or who have difficulty speaking express themselves through its new communication board.

It’s a new feature that’s been added to the inclusive and accessible playground at ARISE at the Farm in Chittenango.

“The parents know that their children can get their needs known. The staff can model using it if the individual isn’t used to using pictures to communicate,” said Mary Schwanke, Respite and Family Support Services Manager at ARISE.

The new board was installed just this past spring. The communication board is something families in Madison County say is critical and needed.

“We had been in touch with ARISE and there was a need identified by parents that there was a need for a communication board for the children on the playground to effectively communicate,” said Karen Burgwin, Community Health Worker, Children and Youth with Special Needs at Madison County Public Health.

Vibrant and creative, the new board has the alphabet, numbers, greetings, gestures, activities, and emotions. ARISE also customized part of the board showing farm-related photos like horses, to help represent the programs ARISE offers.

“Whether you’re speaking or non-speaking. Sometimes you just need a little bit of help getting your needs and wants to be known to those that are around you,” said Schwanke.

The board allows those who are non-verbal or have difficulty speaking to express themselves. Through this, they’re able to communicate with others by selecting different photos and symbols.

“This is an opportunity for them to reduce their anxiety, and effectively communicate what they need,” said Burgwin.

Making sure everyone in the community is heard.

Click here to learn more about ARISE.

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