After isolation, lack of activities, Kamloops special needs kids to get new playground - InfoNews

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After isolation, lack of activities, Kamloops special needs kids to get new playground

Chad Pearson says the staff and some of the older students have been working to prepare the lot for a playground structure.
Image Credit: GOFUNDME / Insight Support School
July 24, 2020 - 4:00 PM

Those who live with developmental disorders were hit especially hard by the social changes that came as a result of COVID-19.

Chad Pearson is the middle school support lead at Insight Support Services in Kamloops, an all-grades school that caters to youth with varying psychological conditions. He says the pandemic was trying not only on his students, but also on adults with disorders.

“The pools were closed and for a long time we couldn’t go to the playgrounds because the equipment was taped off, so combine all those things with a developmental disorder and it a pretty big hit,” Pearson says. “I really feel for the parents because they had a lot of options that disappeared.”

Pearson says some of the individuals with disorders may lash out at family or siblings due to the shift in routine, not being able to see their friends and the difficulties with shifting to an online world.

“Social skills have never been a strong point for adults and children with autism, so now they’re missing out on the opportunity to be in school with friends and classmates that they’ve developed a relationship with. With autism, it can take a lot longer to build a bond with someone and make friends. They don’t often have friends out of school, so when that was immediately cut off that’s when the isolation kicked in.”

Pearson says they’ll be welcoming students back in September, with appropriate social distancing and hygiene practices in place. One of the most important things for welcoming the kids back is to have an outlet for them to burn off energy.

“They're stuck at home and these kids are getting a lot more computer time and maybe they’re not getting quite enough exercise, so if we can incorporate it into a school day that’ll make it better for the kids,” Pearson says.

The school is currently fundraising to build a playground adjacent to their building. Pearson says the students have had access to facilities at the Tournament Capital Centre, but that requires crossing a street and can be dangerous. The new playground, expected to cost $20,000, would offer a climbing structure with swings and slides on Insight property.

So far, a GoFundMe for the playground has raised nearly $3,500. Pearson says the playground is critical not only to help students get out excess energy, but also to help them focus in class.

“Behaviours of people on the spectrum really improve when they have access to good physical activities,” Pearson says. “Many of them have high anxiety, they go out there and get some psychical activity, and when they come back in we can reach them better academically, we can get more work out of them and they can learn more.”

You can donate to the playground project online here or in person at 929 McGill Rd.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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