For two decades parents and staff members of Lake Shore Elementary School envisioned a playground where all students can enjoy outdoor activities. Now that vision is one step—and one roll of a wheelchair—closer to reality.

In June, students, families and staff members celebrated a new walking path and butterfly garden at the school. The path and the garden are part of a larger plan to expand exercise, creative play and hands-on learning to the outdoors.

“We are looking forward to enjoying the path this year to provide movement breaks for our students,” said Principal Anna Supplee. “The path is a great place for breaks and for students to join their friends for safe social interaction.”

The asphalt walking path was completed last winter following 20 years of fundraising led by the Lake Shore Parent Teacher Association.

“The vision was to have an accessible path where students of all abilities could recreate and exercise together,” said PTA member Kelsey Potter. “The PTA also envisions holding walk-a-thons that will promote healthy habits and raise more funds for playground improvements that will benefit Lake Shore students and staff.”

The butterfly garden provides students with opportunities to learn about life cycles of plants, butterflies and other pollinators. The garden was dedicated to the memory of Lennox, a former Lake Shore student.

The PTA contributed approximately $40,000 to the cost of the path, which was built by NW Construction General Contracting and by AKS Engineering. Designs for future outdoor improvements have been developed by landscape architect Jane Tesner Kleiner. The PTA’s next phase of improvements will be to add benches along the path.

“We have a master plan that we’re hoping to slowly add over the years as we continue to fundraise,” said Potter. “The main focus is on nature and imagination play and focusing on ways for students who may not enjoy the intensity of traditional recess activities to have an outlet outdoors.”