Michael Jones can't play on the swings on the Evans Elementary School playground without help from paraprofessional Katie Tharp.
So to help her special-needs pupil, Tharp decided to conduct a fundraiser to get a special swing.
"(Michael) has cerebral palsy and we were trying to find any type of equipment that he would be able to use on the playground," Tharp said. "When we go to recess all the other kids have the ability to play and he doesn't, so much."
After Tharp contacted Evans High School Principal Don Brigdon about selling baked goods at the school to raise the money, the school's Beta Club, JROTC and the construction class rallied together to raise the money and put together the swing.
"I e-mailed my club sponsors and asked them were there any service projects that they needed, and between the JROTC and Beta Club -- the two of them -- they came up with the funds for all of it," Brigdon said.
The construction class at Evans High School also volunteered to put the swing together.
"I was very proud of the fact that it didn't take but a day or so for them (the clubs) to get back to me and they were willing to take care of all of it," Brigdon said. "These kids and this faculty are like that. They're always willing to help out."
The special swing that Michael could use costs about $500 and would help him play somewhat independently, Tharp said.
About a month into the school year, Tharp and Michael's physical therapist, Judy Batty, asked the Columbia County school board to pay for the swing. The funds were denied because the swing is used outside the classroom.
"We're not supposed to use monies for playground equipment, but that is the type of thing that is handled by the Parent-Teacher Organizations," said Lisa Hill, the school system's director of special services.
"I think it is a wonderful thing that the students at Evans High School are doing this," Hill said. "We really appreciate the community support."
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