KPLAY Playgrounds for All was founded with the purpose of bringing handicap-accessible play equipment to public playgrounds in the Keokuk, Iowa, community. Prior to the June 2015 opening of Bentley's Playground in Tolmie Park on Plank Road in Keokuk, there were no accessible playgrounds available in the Tri-State area surrounding Keokuk. Families with children needing adaptive equipment were required to drive 1-1/2 hours to Iowa City, or even 3 hours to St. Louis, MO, to use a playground.
After building successful playgrounds in Tolmie Park in 2015 and 2016, a new goal to build a Splash Pad Park was set. This splash pad will contain fun and colorful objects that will squirt water and allow children in wheelchairs to play with other children. After a successful $150,000.00 fundraising campaign, Bentley’s Splash Pad opened August 27, 2022.
Showing support for Bentley’s Playground, The Lee County Charitable Fund awarded KPLAY an IMPACT $25,000.00 grant to finish the Splash Pad landscaping and build a restroom for children and adults. The restroom project will be ongoing, but KPLAY is focused to complete their vision of bringing children with all kinds of disabilities the ability to play together with their peers and teach everyone that we are all different.
The foundation of the Central Lee School District is to educate independent thinkers to value themselves and others. This mission has had its challenges during the last two years, because the number of students who face challenges with stress and anxiety is increasing. Central Lee High School Freshman Aubrey Weber saw her fellow students struggling and through the International Future Problem Solving Competition, created an idea for a sensory space where students could go for relief.
Students can feel overwhelmed by the increased work and behavior expectations and the increased pressure to meet new learning standards. When learning and social demands on developing students are too high, this can lead to behavior outbursts and struggles with learning beyond what students would already face. Sensory breaks are a researched based intervention for students who feel overwhelmed during the course of the day.
The Central Lee Sensory Project involves removing walls in rooms that are currently used for storage and were originally built for individual band lessons. The project will increase the access students have to sensory break materials by creating a sensory room and check-out stations at the Central Lee Elementary School. One sensory room will be a calming and relaxing space for students, and the other will be more of a hands-on room with more tactile materials. Having two different rooms is beneficial because of various students' needs. In addition, there will also be more sensory stations in academic hallways so that students can have easier access to smaller sensory items to keep them focused in class. Around 20-30 kids with special needs will be using the sensory rooms, and nearly 500 kids utilizing the sensory stations.