The Accessible School Project


by

Ms. Lisa Yegin, Upper Elementary Teacher

Central Elementary, National City, CA



My 4th, 5th and 6th grade students are so passionate about welcoming everyone. As we worked on a thematic unit in English Language Arts about the challenges characters face, we read the book, We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch. Students were most interested in comparing their school community to the setting of the book, an inclusive and accessible school and community for everyone.


We took a tour of our school campus to see how accessible it was for students using wheelchairs. Students found both strengths and weaknesses in the design of the campus. They developed an understanding of the wheelchair access sign ♿ and became more aware of what it means to face, as one student said, “invisible barriers.”


They took notes and drew their thinking as they walked through each area of the school (nurse’s office, cafeteria, theatre stage, bathroom, water fountain, blacktop, play structure, library, and entry/exit to school grounds). As they did, they shared many ideas for how to improve accessibility. Back in our classroom, students learned about simple machines: pulleys, axels, ramps, and levers. They then went to work designing a new accessible playground, an accessible stage, elevators, and simple machines that can be moved around the entire school campus to access all areas of their learning environment (e.g. a transportable wheelchair lifting robot).


1. Accessible Stage


"I built an accessible stage so people with wheelchairs can go up the stage. It's called a ramp. I designed this for our school because our school needs a ramp to the stage."

- Ava Renee






2. Accessible Playground


"I made this project to help people have fun. My project is an accessible playground where wheelchair users can play. The playground and play structure have a ramp and it has a circle. Inside the circle there is an entrance for the slide, when you go up the slide, there is sand so the wheelchair user will not go flying. This was designed for all people, including wheelchairs, to have fun and be able to go on the slide."

- Jeremy



3. Lifting Robot for Wheelchairs

"I made a lifting Robot because it can lift people with wheelchairs. Wheelchairs can’t go on the play structure and all over the school."

- Mateo




I’m so deeply proud of our students! They identified needs for access in the school community, learned about tools used in design, and then creativity built models to improve access. They are inspired to make change and to use their voices to advocate.


Next Steps: We booked an appointment for the schoolboard to visit us. The students will educate the school board during their visit, share their three dimensional models, and invite them on a campus tour. They are excited to share the story We Move Together with the adults.