Source: Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems announcement

AVON, Ohio – The first thing that hits your eye when approaching Horace Mann Elementary School in Huntington, Indiana, isn’t necessarily the school building, but the bright red and navy- blue play structure at the front edge of its property. The 6,800-square-foot area holds a newly installed, fully inclusive playground, the only such play structure in the Huntington area. Designed in school colors, the playground is fitted with equipment and surfaces to make it a fun and inviting recreational structure for all children, including those in wheelchairs or who are affected by disabilities.

Building the new structure was a project that earned the support of Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America Inc. (KBGCNA), the North American arm of the global nonprofit organization Knorr-Bremse Global Care.

The foundation is operated by Knorr-Bremse, based in Munich, Germany, and the parent company of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC. Bendix’s Huntington operation, one of its largest, includes manufacturing and assembly facilities and serves as the primary North American distribution center for Bendix, the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management, and braking solutions for commercial vehicles.

The Horace Mann playground is the recipient of a combined grant. KBGCNA contributed to the project with a $40,000 grant, which was enough to cover about one-fourth of the cost of the overall project. Bendix Huntington also contributed with an additional $10,000 corporate grant and helped with project oversight.

“Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America and Bendix were thrilled to support the inclusive playground project at Horace Mann Elementary, as an effort that contributes to bringing equity to education and improving the well-being of youth in one of the areas where we operate,” said Maria Gutierrez, president of KBGCNA and director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Bendix. “It’s truly gratifying to be involved with an effort like this that fills a need for the local community by giving children of all abilities access to more opportunities to learn, communicate, and play together.” 

A Playground for All Students

Installing the inclusive playground in the Huntington community was a long-term plan for Macy Phillips, an essential skills teacher at Horace Mann Elementary School, part of the Huntington County Community School Corporation. Phillips realized the school needed such a facility about four years ago when the essential skills program first moved into the building from another location in Huntington.

Once used as a school, the property had served as an administrative office building for a number of years before it was transitioned into a school again. Phillips knew the existing playground wasn’t suitable for the students in the essential skills program, which educates around 30 children ranging in age from 4 to 12 and who have moderate or severe physical or intellectual disabilities.

The existing playground had an unstable fence and offered few pieces of equipment that could be accessed by children in wheelchairs or those with severe physical disabilities.

“There was a little ramp for them to get onto the playground, but there wasn’t anything for them to do once they got up there,” Phillips explained. “There was only one slide, and the flooring was all mulch. A big part of our program is teaching the kids to play, work, and communicate independently, so we use the playground for a lot of things, and they just weren’t able to use it.”

To view the entire announcement, click HERE.