Video by Talbert Toole.
By Anna Grace Usery
Holly Barker Clay had an artistic vision for her special needs students at Bramlett Elementary School, and she’s implementing it through a 13-color mosaic and activity center on the playground.
Outside on the concrete basketball court is the start of what will be a children’s haven, with a hopscotch court, interactive ABCs and 123s, flowers and a maze. These activities are to help her special needs children develop better gross motor skills and engage them in conversation and language, she said.
“There are many children who attend Bramlett who have sensory processing issues,” she said. “This will be a space for them to play like neurotypical kids.”
Clay and Kristen Busby, Oxford Board of Supervisors Jeff Busby’s wife, were armed with paint brushes and rollers this morning, July 17, to continue work on the project in 90-degree heat. The heat was no deterrent, though. Both were quick to point out how glad they were to make this difference.
Though the project is incomplete, a winding road is taking shape, as well as a few paw prints and flowers students will be able to tip-toe through.
“I researched putting sensory areas in school, both inside and outside,” Clay said. “I presented it to my principal (Keri Jo Finnie) and she helped fund it.”
After her research, Clay created a rendering of the activity center and began working to put her vision into place. Bramlett Elementary parents were quick to help, too. Instead of giving small, end-of-the-year teacher gifts last May, some Pre-K parents donated to this larger cause.
Clay said she wanted to shop local for painting materials, so she went to Sneed’s Ace Hardware. While she was there she also met the area’s Benjamin Moore distributor. After hearing her story, Ace Hardware donated five gallons of the 15-gallon Benjamin Moore specialty paint she needed to complete the project. The donation saved her at least $200, she said.
“I’ve had such great friends come help me that understand the kids that I teach,” she said. “We get amazing support.”
With a child of her own on the disability spectrum, Clay said this project was near and dear to her heart. The project is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 6 when Bramlett Elementary has its open house.