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Swinney to get playground equipment for special needs students

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LAWTON, Okla._A Lawton elementary school could soon be fitted with special playground equipment that will be user-friendly for students with special needs.

Members of the Leadership Lawton-Fort Sill program have taken on the task of purchasing and installing new playground equipment for B.C. Swinney Elementary. In order to do that, they'll need to raise $20,000 and so far they're half way there thanks to generous donors like the Lawton American Legion Post 29 who presented the organization with a $4,000 check Tuesday morning.

Leadership Lawton-Fort Sill members said the school was chosen because the need there was so great. Swinney Elementary has twenty moderate-to-severe special needs students and no playground equipment to fit their needs. Their current playground is outdated and all the equipment is metal, with some of it not being safe for all the students.

Every year the Leadership Lawton-Fort Sill class has to pick a project that will benefit the community. Spokesperson, Brandi Whatley, says her class all agreed they wanted to take on a project that would help special needs students.

"We need to invest in our children because when we do that, we are investing in our future. I know that the Lawton Fort Sill community, I know that is the heart of our community and we wanted something that would last for a long time and make a big impact," said Whatley.

Intermediate Special-Ed teacher and finance officer for the American Legion, Kyle Cunningham says many of the children in his class can't use the equipment they have now, so they are missing out on interaction with their classmates.

"They go to recess and they're out and see all the other kids climbing on the jungle gym and using various other pieces of equipment but they are kind of left to stand there and observe. So I'm sure they fell a bit left out," said Cunningham.

Cunningham says this project is something he is very passionate about and it goes right along with the American Legion's mission, helping the community and veterans.

"Many of our children are the children of our veterans, current and in the past," said Cunningham.

Whatley hopes to be able to replace some of the equipment that isn't used anymore and add a lot more that can also be used for physical therapy.

"Depending on the success of our fundraising, we might just do a complete over haul. So we'll just see what we can do as we get a little bit closer, we just need support from the community," said Cunningham.

Their goal is to raise a minimum of $20,000 and they have to reach that to make the project possible. From there, the class will start the project that must completed by July 31.

Leadership Lawton-Fort Sill is currently having a Toyota giveaway fundraiser that's going on until May 14 and at the end of May they will be having a 5K in Medicine Park.

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