Coming This Summer: A Playground For All

In the city of Lake Elmo, at the corner of Stillwater Boulevard and Lake Elmo Avenue, Lake Elmo Elementary school has seen a number of changes over the years. But a special project this summer is one of its most exciting changes yet.

Once school lets out for the summer, construction crews will move in to decommission the school's septic system – digging up the entire playground area in the process. Rather than reset the 25-year-old playground equipment that would need to be replaced in the next 5 years or less, the Lake Elmo Elementary PTA set a goal of building a new, inclusive playground that will be ready for students when the school is in session for the 2018-19 school year.

The playground was designed with input from parents of students of all abilities, teachers, and aides who support medically complex students attending Lake Elmo Elementary. Inclusive play design means this playground does more than offer accessibility to the various play structures: it encourages students of different abilities to interact and play with each other as playground peers. The new playground will be open to the community when school is not in session, and will provide play opportunities for people of all ages.

With the added ramps, and accessible equipment pieces that do not require wheelchair transfers, the playground's cost is more than the average playground. The school district is supporting the project with a poured surface to make the entire play structure accessible using a wheelchair or walker. The Lake Elmo Elementary PTA will cover the majority of the equipment costs. (As is the case at other public schools, the PTA underwrites any planned improvements or updates to existing playground equipment.)

Throughout the school year the PTA has hosted numerous fundraisers and written grant applications to meet the $100,000 goal, but there is more to be done. Area residents and businesses can support this program by mailing a donation to the school:

  • Lake Elmo Elementary, 11030 Stillwater Boulevard North, Lake Elmo, MN 55042 (please make checks payable to Lake Elmo Elementary PTA)

Community members can also donate online at

What is Inclusive Play?

  • A way of bridging the divide between mainstream and special needs children.
  • More than just ramps and an accessible surface, inclusive play creates space for children of different abilities to play together.
  • Help children explore the benefits of movement through swings, spinning, and balance.

Why is Inclusive Play Important?

  • Children at all ages learn in all aspects of development through play: emotional, social, physical and mental.
  • Both groups can benefit from these play methods and learn more by mixing with children different than themselves.

Why Install an Inclusive Play Playground at Lake Elmo Elementary?

  • Lake Elmo is the cluster site for Medically Complex elementary students around the district.
  • Changes to support these students have been made around the school building, but not on the playground.
  • There are a limited number of accessible play pieces on the playground today; inclusive design broadens play opportunities for all students.

The Lake Elmo Elementary PTA, a Minnesota-based nonprofit corporation recognized under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS tax code, is raising funds that are needed to purchase new playground equipment to serve the diverse needs of students attending Lake Elmo Elementary. To learn more about the PTA visit >

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