It didn’t take long Wednesday, Oct. 3, for a group of students to begin enjoying a new playground at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind (SCSDB) campus in Spartanburg County.
SCSDB unveiled the $237,000 facility constructed with funds the school’s foundation raised in partnership with S.C. Lions Clubs and gifts from the Wells Fargo Foundation, Publix Supermarkets Charities, and others.
The playground is named the SC Lions Clubs Centennial Project Outdoor Recreational and Learning Park. It features a variety of equipment designed for SCSDB students with visual impairment.
A large crowd of Lions Club leaders, school officials, students, faculty, and other community representatives gathered for a dedication/ribbon cutting ceremony at the park, which sits beside SCSDB’s School for the Blind.
“This is a fabulous addition to the S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind,” said Bob Corlew, chairman and immediate past president of Lions Clubs International and the organization’s foundation. “It’s a testament to the work that can be accomplished when Lions Clubs and community leaders work together.”
Eugene Spiess, past international director of Lions Clubs International, said the playground is the centennial project for the state’s Lions Clubs. The effort included 61 clubs, SCSDB’s foundation and many individuals.
He said there was an existing park on the site that was donated by Lions about 30 years ago. Speiss said that park was outdated and in need of replacement.
The new playground was funded in part with a $100,000 grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation, Speiss said.
He pointed out that Lions Clubs have been committed to helping those with visual impairment since 1925, when Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, challenged Lions members to support the cause.
It’s important for all children to go outside, feel the sunshine, and enjoy playing together,” said Page McCraw, president of SCSDB, in a statement. “These generous donors have given our students a safe, healthy environment to exercise and have fun.”
Immediately following the ceremony, students poured into the park.
They enjoyed swings, a jungle gym, a miniature Wells Fargo bank and Publix grocery store, music stations, and a covered amphitheater named in honor of Union Lions Club member Barbara Harter Rippy and her late husband, Bobby Gene Rippy.
Equipment is connected by tactile, or soft rubber, walkways and has ramps instead of stairs for easy, safe access.
“What they do here at the S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind was one of the draws for our foundation,” said Ethan Burroughs, a Spartanburg Lions Club member and market president for Wells Fargo. “One of our focus areas is in education. To also work with those with disabilities and to provide funding to help improve their quality of life is truly an honor.”
SCSDB was originally founded Spartanburg in 1849 as a school for five deaf children by the Rev. Newton Pinckney Walker. In 1855, a department for blind children was added to the school.
Throughout the years, the school has become the state’s specialized school serving students from across South Carolina with vision, hearing, and other physical and intellectual disabilities.
SCSDB offers pre K-12 programs on its main campus in Spartanburg and specialized services in school districts and homes throughout the state.
Founded in 1979, SCSDB’s foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to securing financial and other resources to support the school’s mission.