Therapeutic Day School of Mount Prospect Celebrates New Indoor Play Space for Students with a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Students of Camelot Therapeutic Day School of Mount Prospect were in for a big surprise last Thursday morning. The school was readying itself for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate a new indoor play space for kids to learn, socialize and exercise.
“There was a palpable buzz around the building,” Deputy Superintendent Theresa Mortl Smith said. “Our youngest students did not know the play space was being built, so it was especially joyful to see them experience the structure for the first time.”
The play space, which features a custom-designed playset with a modular design, eco-friendly materials, and play
accessories such as slides and steps, had been in the works for five months. The space will be used for classes and cohorts, as well as for individual students as their sensory needs dictate. The space will be especially useful for students to exercise and play indoors during extreme temperatures.
Even as far back as the Northwest Center for Autism’s 2019 play space instillation, Mortl Smith has been working to bring the idea to more campuses in her region, which stretch from Chicago to Iowa.
Camelot Therapeutic Day School of Mount Prospect, a Specialized Education Services, Inc. (SESI) school , provides academic and therapeutic services for children, adolescents and young adults, ages 3 through 21 with extraordinary needs including Emotional Disabilities, Specific Learning Disabilities, Autism, Speech and Language, Developmental Delays, Intellectual Disabilities, and Traumatic Brain Injuries. SESI is a premier provider of education services for K-12 students who face challenges that prevent them from being successful in a traditional classroom. SESI partners with school districts to run in-district classrooms and stand-alone schools that meet the academic, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of special and alternative education students.
“It was evident Mount Prospect could benefit from an area where our children could play, socialize and practice gross motor skills,” Mortl Smith said.
Once it was determined there was sufficient space at the school, Executive Director Dr. Theodore Hickman worked hard to make the vision a reality. Hickman started by listening to the needs of the students.
“We began by listening to our students and our partnering districts on how we can better meet the needs of our students,” said Hickman. “It’s powerful to witness this shared vision turn into reality and to see the impact on our student’s growth.”
Students are very excited to make use of the space. “I like playing on the slide and with my friends,” one 2nd grader said. “It is great to have different places to go, it makes school even more fun.”
Teachers are thrilled to make use of the new space. “This is a tremendous resource for our young students,” said Megan O’Keefe, an elementary school teacher. “The space provides the much-needed outlet, structure and routine that is essential for our students to be successful.”
When the ribbon was cut last Thursday morning, the attending cohort of students and staff cheered.
“The greatest joy is watching our students play, laugh and explore,” said Mortl Smith. With this new space, current and future Camelot students will enjoy the space for years to come.