New playground ready for fun: Special Learning Center winner of community vote contest

With the delighted laughter of children and thumps of running footsteps up and down the metal ramps of the Special Learning Center’s new, accessible playground, the ribbon-cutting celebration was well under way.

Volunteers, staff members, parents and children gathered around Special Learning Center Director Debbie Hamler as they excitedly sliced the scarlet ribbon to officially open the playground. With Sam Luetkemeyer accompanying on keyboard, the group joined together in a song of appreciation.

“Thank you, friends, for bringing our playground to us,” they sang.

Through extensive campaigning and ample community support, the Special Learning Center won a $50,000 grant in late 2010 as a part of the Pepsi Refresh Project. The public voted by text or online at the Pepsi Refresh website to support the endeavor, which paid for additional equipment for the 20-year-old playground.

“I just love our community. They are so good to us. It makes me thankful to live in Jeff City,” said Hamler.

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Connor Strope wheels himself up the ramp as he and his mom, Stacy Strope, check out the new playground equipment at Connor’s former school. The Special Learning Center hosted a ribbon-cutting and open house to thank the public for their support in receiving a large grant for playground equipment.

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