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‘Let’s Play Project’ Proposed at Southeast Park

By Holly Crocco

Many playgrounds are now being created for all physical abilities, to foster an inclusive and adaptive spirit. But what about adapting to various languages that are spoken throughout the community?

Members of the Brewster Central School District recently approached Jared Kuczenski, director of parks and recreation for the Town of Southeast, about installing signage at Castle Park to help kids – and their parents – navigate language barriers so they can play together.

“They came up with the idea to put some signage up that would show different playground games in a variety of different languages, so that way children who might speak one language or another can still be able to play with each other,” said Kuczenski, at the April 11 Southeast Town Board meeting. “I think having something like this for our diverse community would be an absolute homerun.”

“My son kept trying to play with all these different kids, but everybody speaks a different language,” explained Jaimie Dini, coordinator for the district’s English Language Learners and bilingual program – and also a parent.

Dini took the matter to Social Studies teacher Kayla Corvino, and together the came up with the idea to create a metal sign with a QR code that can be scanned to direct parents to videos describing, in different languages, how to play different games.

“So, now this is not just Spanish, English and American Sign Language, but it’s also French, Albanian, Mandarin, Italian,” explained Dini. “We can always add more because we are going to be creating a website, so the QR code will bring you to the website.”

According to Corvino, the teachers reached out to the ELL program, foreign language department and other students at Brewster High School, who came up with the idea of high school students interviewing kids at the elementary schools to see what kinds of games are popular, and how they are played.

“The students did an awesome job of creating these different types of interview questions,” she said, noting that the high-schoolers talked to various age groups and ethnicities.

Students in the ELL class completed the entire interview process in English, honing their language skills along the way.

Advanced placement art students are creating posters that a company has agreed to print into metal signs to – hopefully – be placed within the district, and at Castle Park.

“We really hope this is just the beginning that we can get into all the parks, eventually,” said Corvino. “We wanted to make sure we could step up, our students could step up, and help kids be able to bridge that barrier and be able to communicate and play together, and create this overall sense of community.”

Kuczenski praised the teachers for coming up with a new “cutting-edge idea” to make community spaces even more inclusive. “It’s new and exciting, and to be a part of it is awesome,” he said.


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