By Ilsa Gottleib
For PlayZone and the Bedford Educational Foundation
When school ended, PlayZone construction began.
PlayZone will be an outdoor classroom for children of all abilities, located in a courtyard adjacent to the integrated preschool classrooms and the CASE and LABBB classes at Bedford High School.
The vision for the area includes modified access to activities for children of all abilities; the creation of a garden and the development of play areas that will stimulate gross, oral and fine motor development; sensory motor integration and social play skills.
Bedford’s Department of Public Works started the initial construction phase by removing the asphalt walkway and leveling the area. Next, under the direction of the School Department, a walkway will be constructed to ensure easy access for all. . A raised garden will be built, flora and fauna added, a track will be constructed, and much more.
A true community effort, the final step of the courtyard’s transformation will be paid for through the fund raising efforts of the PlayZone Committee.
The concept for the PlayZone was developed to recognize the tremendous efforts of Judy Mirel, a beloved pioneer and educator who worked closely with Bedford children with special needs, and changed many lives.
Judy recently retired after 35 years in Bedford. One of her proudest accomplishments was the development of the Integrated Preschool class in Bedford High School. Her vision created a preschool program for children with special needs and made it possible for them to go to school in Bedford. Judy has been special to so many people in Bedford—when her name is mentioned, we have heard such things as:
- “I would have died without Judy’s help. Judy was my life line.”
- “She is amazing and she always returns my phone call.”
- “In my darkest time, when I was at my wits end, I’d call Judy. She would problem solve with me until I could move forward.”
To date over 200 individuals, businesses, and organizations have supported the Play Zone.
The project has received financial support from many Bedford community service organizations including Bedford’s Rotary and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the National Honor Society; and businesses and community groups, including Latady Designs, Rober Survey, Eastern Bank; Nutrition and Whole Health Solutions, Patriot Pediatrics, Garber Dental, New England Nurseries and the Emerson Hospital Community Partnership.
Town departments supporting the project includ the Department of Public Works and the Police and Fire Departments; as well as the School Department, The Bedford Teachers Association (BEA), Davis School Teachers, Bedford High School Parents Association, POMs (Patrons of Music), and the Special Education Parents’ Association (SEPAC).
We thank everyone who has supported the PlayZone’s fundraising intiatives, and everyone who attended our fundraisers at Flatbreads, Callahan’s Karate or the Pajama Party at Davis School.
We have reached 90% of our fund raising goal. The Play Zone committee (Susan Appelbaum, Ilsa Gottlieb, Ann Guay, and Melinda Macht-Greenberg) asks you to join with us in honoring Judith Mirel and transforming this area for some of Bedford’s most needy youth.
Checks may be made out to the Bedford Education Foundation (a 501(c3) organization that has agreed to serve as the fiduciary agent for this effort) and mailed to PlayZone c/o Melinda Macht-Greenberg, PO Box 455, Nutting Lake, MA 01865.