Communicattion Boards Funding

Playgrounds and School Environments: Spaces of Inclusion

Playgrounds and school environments should be inclusive spaces that foster equal opportunities for all children to engage, communicate, and have fun. However, non-verbal or minimally verbal individuals often face challenges in expressing their needs, preferences, and desires during playtime. Communication boards play a vital role in addressing these challenges. These boards empower individuals to communicate using symbols, pictures, or words, enhancing inclusivity and facilitating meaningful interactions.

The Role of Communication Boards

By implementing communication boards in playgrounds, we create a welcoming environment. Here, all children, regardless of their verbal abilities, can express themselves, make choices, and collaborate with their peers. These boards benefit not only non-verbal individuals but also help other children expand their vocabulary and language skills, fostering a sense of understanding and acceptance among all participants.

Empowering Communities

This article aims to provide school administrators, teachers, parents, and community members with practical insights. We will explore funding strategies and resources needed to secure communication boards for playgrounds. Together, let’s create spaces where every child can communicate, belong, and thrive. Join us as we embark on this journey to ensure that every child has the opportunity to actively participate in play.

Taking the First Steps: Researching and Planning Costs

Understanding Costs and Planning Your Budget

When you begin the process of installing a communication board in your school or playground, understanding the associated costs is crucial. These expenses can vary widely based on materials, the level of customization required, and the number of boards each park needs. A thorough initial research and planning phase is essential to accurately determine the funding necessary for your project.

Partnering with Smarty Symbols for Custom Solutions

Working with a reputable company like Smarty Symbols can streamline obtaining a detailed quote tailored to your specific requirements. Smarty Symbols excels in crafting custom communication boards, offering a variety of options to meet diverse needs. Through collaboration with their team, you can clarify your vision, specify customizations, and discuss the quantity of boards required. This partnership ensures you receive an accurate quote, providing a clear picture of the financial commitment involved.

The Importance of Detailed Cost Estimates

Having a precise cost estimate is invaluable. It not only aids in planning your fundraising strategy but also boosts your confidence when approaching potential donors or sponsors. The detailed planning shows that you are serious and well-prepared, making it easier to secure the needed funds. With Smarty Symbols’ commitment to quality, you can rest assured that your investment will yield durable, effective communication boards that enhance inclusivity at your playground.

Investing in Inclusion

Remember, investing in communication boards contributes significantly to the well-being and inclusivity of community playgrounds or school environments. By fully understanding the costs and securing the required funds, you take a vital step towards creating spaces where all children can freely communicate and interact.

In the following section, we will explore various funding strategies to help realize this vision of inclusive play environments.

City Playground Communication Board English Green Render

Funding Strategies: Bringing Your Vision to Life

Once you have determined the costs associated with acquiring communication boards for your school or playground, the next step is to explore effective funding strategies. With a clear understanding of the financial requirements, you can now focus on securing the necessary resources to bring your vision to life. Here are some ideas and examples to inspire your fundraising efforts:

A. City Playground Funding Strategies

When it comes to funding communication boards for city playgrounds, there are several strategies that can help you gather the necessary resources. Here are some ideas to consider:


  1. Municipal Budget Allocation: Explore the possibility of including communication boards as part of the annual budget for park renovations or enhancements. Work with local government officials and park departments to advocate for the importance of inclusive play and the positive impact communication boards can have on children’s development.

  2. Community Fundraising Events: Organize community events such as fundraisers, festivals, or sponsored runs/walks to raise funds for the communication boards. Engage local businesses, community organizations, and residents in supporting the cause. Collaborate with community centers, schools, or local venues to host these events and maximize community participation.

  3. Corporate Sponsorships and Grants: Reach out to local businesses and corporations for sponsorships or grants that align with their corporate social responsibility objectives. Many companies have philanthropic initiatives that focus on education, children, or community development. Craft a compelling proposal that highlights the benefits of communication boards and how their support will contribute to an inclusive and accessible playground.

  4. Partnerships with Nonprofit Organizations: Collaborate with local nonprofit organizations that share a similar mission or focus on children’s development. Explore the possibility of joint fundraising efforts, grant applications, or shared resources. Nonprofits may have established relationships with funders or access to funding opportunities that can support your project.

Success Story:

Bayville Farms Park Community Communication Board

Making Playgrounds Inclusive: Ashley Causey’s Mission in Virginia Beach

Initiating Change

In June 2022, Ashley Causey, a dedicated Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), embarked on a mission to enhance the inclusivity of playgrounds in Virginia Beach for children of all abilities. Recognizing the significant impact of communication boards on accessibility, Ashley sought guidance and support from Barbara Fernandes, CEO of Smarty Symbols, via LinkedIn.

Collaborative Efforts and Community Impact

This outreach sparked a collaborative effort between Ashley, Smarty Symbols, and Virginia Beach city officials, culminating in a significant initiative: the installation of 11 communication boards across 11 playgrounds. Throughout this process, Ashley worked closely with Remi Salami, a committed Smarty Symbols representative, to secure sponsorships. In gratitude, sponsors’ logos were prominently displayed on the boards, fostering a strong sense of community pride.

Design and Integration

Each board was thoughtfully designed to reflect the unique characteristics of its location, incorporating park names and city colors. This careful consideration ensured that the boards were not only functional but also integrated beautifully into their environments, enhancing both utility and aesthetics.

Ongoing Installations and Future Access

Currently, the installation of these boards is progressing, and soon, they will provide children in Virginia Beach with essential tools for inclusive communication during play. Ashley’s unwavering commitment and effective collaboration with Smarty Symbols and city officials showcase the transformative power of grassroots initiatives in making positive community changes.

A Model for Others

Virginia Beach’s successful playground project stands as a beacon for other cities and communities aiming to develop more inclusive play areas. It underscores the crucial roles of collaboration, innovation, and dedicated support from individuals and organizations like Smarty Symbols in driving societal progress.

This revision aims to streamline the information and enhance readability while emphasizing the impactful results and collaborative nature of the project.

B. School Playground Funding Strategies

Derek Walz Inclusive Playground Initiative - Use for images showing Derek or the overall playground.

Funding communication boards for school playgrounds requires a tailored approach that involves engaging parents, teachers, and the broader school community. Here are some strategies to consider:


  1. Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) Involvement: Present your project to the PTA and showcase the importance of communication boards in fostering inclusive play. Collaborate with the PTA on fundraising events, such as bake sales, auctions, or parent nights, to raise funds specifically for the communication boards. Encourage parents to contribute and volunteer their time and resources.

  2. Grant Applications: Research grants and funding opportunities specifically targeted towards educational initiatives, special needs programs, or inclusive play. Craft a strong grant proposal that highlights the benefits of communication boards and their impact on students’ social and cognitive development. Utilize resources such as grant databases or local education foundations to identify relevant opportunities.

  3. Community Partnerships: Engage local businesses, community organizations, and service clubs in supporting your project. Seek sponsorships, donations, or in-kind contributions that can offset the costs of the communication boards. Offer recognition and visibility to the partnering organizations, such as displaying their logos on the boards or acknowledging their support in school newsletters.

  4. Fundraising Campaigns: Launch targeted fundraising campaigns within the school community. Utilize online crowdfunding platforms or organize donation drives to involve parents, teachers, and students in contributing to the project. Communicate the goals and impact of the communication boards to generate excitement and support.

  5. School District Support: Collaborate with school district administrators and seek their support in allocating funds for the communication boards. Highlight the educational and social benefits of these boards and their alignment with the district’s commitment to inclusivity and student well-being.

Derek's Initiative: Transforming Playgrounds into Inclusive Spaces

A Second Grader's Vision Comes to Life

A Second Grader’s Vision Comes to Life

Derek, a proactive second-grade student at Pewaukee Lake Elementary School, partnered with Smarty Symbols to realize his dream of an inclusive playground. Driven by a clear vision, Derek embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign and successfully raised $5,000. This funding supported the installation of tailored communication boards in his school’s playground.

Collaboration for Inclusivity

The partnership between Derek and Smarty Symbols exemplifies the power of collaboration. Known for their expertise in creating customized communication boards, Smarty Symbols worked closely with Derek. Together, they selected appropriate symbols and images from their extensive library, ensuring the boards resonated with the play preferences and needs of non-verbal students.


Enhancing Playground Communication

With the new communication boards installed, non-verbal students at Pewaukee Lake Elementary can now express their play choices and interact more effectively with their peers. These tools are crucial in fostering an environment of belonging and inclusion, allowing every student to participate in meaningful play.

Inspiring Nationwide Change

Derek’s initiative is a beacon of inspiration for schools and communities across the country. His commitment and proactive approach demonstrate how individual efforts, supported by organizations like Smarty Symbols, can lead to transformative changes in creating inclusive play environments.

Encouraging Future Efforts

We share Derek’s story to motivate others to pursue similar initiatives. By collaborating with specialists and harnessing community support, schools can craft playgrounds that accommodate the diverse needs and abilities of all children. Let’s join forces to ensure every child feels valued, included, and empowered during play.

For more insights into Derek’s fundraising strategies and his collaboration with Smarty Symbols, visit our detailed feature here: Empowering Voices: How One Child’s Mission Transformed Recess for Non-Verbal Students.

Collaboration and Partnerships: Key to Successful Implementation

A. Building Partnerships with Local Businesses and Organizations

Securing Essential Support through Local Partnerships

Successful implementation of communication board projects hinges on effective collaboration with local businesses and organizations. Securing sponsorships or in-kind donations from these partners is crucial for funding the necessary equipment. Businesses within the community are often keen to support initiatives that enhance inclusivity and accessibility in public spaces, such as playgrounds.

For instance, Speech-Language Pathologist Ashley Causey in Virginia Beach managed to successfully secure funding from notable organizations including Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, Autism Society of Tidewater Virginia, Kroger, among others. These partnerships facilitated the installation of 11 communication boards throughout the city’s playgrounds. By clearly communicating the project’s goals and benefits, you can forge meaningful relationships with local businesses that contribute significantly to the project’s success.

Leveraging Nonprofit Expertise for Enhanced Impact

Additionally, forming partnerships with local nonprofits or disability advocacy groups can be immensely beneficial. These organizations possess a profound understanding of the needs associated with communication challenges and can provide essential guidance and expertise. Collaborating with these groups aids in securing financial or material support and also fosters an environment where knowledge and best practices can be shared. This ensures that the communication boards are tailored to meet the specific needs of the community effectively.

The Collective Benefit of Diverse Partnerships

By encouraging collaboration and partnerships with local businesses, nonprofits, and advocacy groups, the successful implementation of communication boards in city playgrounds and schools becomes feasible. These partnerships not only supply the necessary financial backing but also offer expertise, resources, and a mutual commitment to creating inclusive environments. Together, we can profoundly impact the lives of children and champion a more inclusive society.

Mount Horeb School Playground Communication Board

B. Collaborating with school administration and district officials

Building Strong Educational Partnerships

Understanding the Importance of Communication Boards

Implementing communication boards in schools is crucial, and building robust partnerships with school administration and district officials is essential. Many school leaders may not be fully aware of the significant benefits these tools offer for inclusive play and social interaction. Consequently, it is vital to raise awareness about the advantages and potential of communication boards. These tools not only facilitate communication for students with challenges but also enrich the educational environment for all students.

Initiating Dialogue with School Leaders

One effective method to start this conversation is by sending a concise email to the special education director or the school principal at the beginning of the school year. This email should outline the concept of communication boards, emphasizing their role in promoting inclusivity and enhancing communication skills across the student body. Furthermore, supplying detailed information and resources can help inform school officials and may encourage them to consider budgeting for these tools in their annual or end-of-year financial plans.

Leveraging Advocacy from Within

Importantly, the initiative for communication boards often originates from those who interact with students daily. Parents, speech therapists, and special education teachers usually lead these requests due to their deep understanding of the benefits these boards can provide in fostering students’ development and enhancing their social interactions. Moreover, their advocacy is instrumental in collaborating with school officials and can significantly influence the successful adoption of communication boards in educational settings.

Ensuring Communication Boards Are Valued Resources

By actively engaging with school administration and district officials, we can help ensure that communication boards are recognized as valuable educational resources. Continuous dialogue and education about these tools can elevate their importance within the educational community, helping to integrate them into schools effectively. This collaboration can transform schools into supportive environments that cater to the needs of all students, including those facing communication challenges.

Taking Action to Implement Change

If you are committed to enhancing inclusivity in your school, consider reaching out directly to a key contact such as the special education director or the principal. Share compelling information about the benefits of communication boards and express your interest in seeing them implemented. Additionally, even a simple query about the process for integrating such tools can initiate significant changes that positively affect students’ educational experiences.

Ultimately, by working together, we can ensure that every student has the opportunity to thrive in a communicative, inclusive, and supportive educational environment.

Applying for Grants and Funding

A. Researching grants specific to educational or inclusive initiatives

Researching grants specific to educational or inclusive initiatives is an important first step in securing additional funding for your communication board project. Take the time to explore various grant opportunities that align with the goals and objectives of your project. Look for grants from foundations, government agencies, and other organizations that prioritize supporting educational and inclusive initiatives.

  1. The American Honda Foundation: The American Honda Foundation provides grants to support educational programs and initiatives that focus on youth and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. Visit their website for more information: American Honda Foundation Grants

  2. The Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grant Program: This grant program provides funding for projects that improve schools and educational facilities. It supports initiatives such as playground enhancements and accessibility improvements. Learn more about the grant program here: Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grant Program

  3. The Lawrence Foundation: The Lawrence Foundation offers grants to support projects in the areas of education, environment, human services, and other charitable causes. They prioritize initiatives that have a broad impact and promote social equity. Explore their website for grant application details: The Lawrence Foundation Grants


Enhancing Inclusive Play Spaces

In conclusion, this article has explored a variety of funding strategies and ideas for creating inclusive play spaces with communication boards. We have underscored the importance of collaboration, partnerships, and grant applications in securing funding for these essential resources. Together, schools, communities, and organizations can significantly impact opportunities for communication and inclusion.


Encouraging Proactive Advocacy

We urge readers to take action and advocate for communication boards in their schools and public spaces. Begin by contacting school administrators, special education directors, or local government officials. Raise awareness about the benefits of communication boards and explore the process for their implementation. Also, share this article or other relevant resources to broaden awareness and motivate others to take action.

The positive impact of communication boards on children and the wider community is profound. These boards enable non-verbal individuals to express themselves, promoting inclusivity, enhancing social interactions, and fostering a sense of belonging. They not only enrich play experiences but also facilitate communication and understanding among children of all abilities.

Let’s continue our efforts to forge inclusive environments where every child has the chance to thrive and participate fully. By embracing communication boards, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of children and foster a more inclusive society.

A Simple Step Toward Big Changes

Remember, even a simple email or conversation can ignite the changes necessary to implement communication boards in your community. Let’s unite to build play spaces that celebrate the diversity and abilities of all children.

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