Bella enjoying the new handicap accessible swing

On a beautiful day, you can hear the laughter echoing from Black Mountain Elementary School’s (BME) playground. Students love getting outside where they can run, climb, swing, and play with friends. Thanks to a collective effort, a new playground wish came true for one student who is now able to partake in all the fun a playground offers. 

The newest piece of equipment is known as Bella’s Swing, and it was installed for one particular student. Isabella (Bella) is in the fourth grade at BME and is quite the celebrity among her peers and staff at the school. Once you meet Bella it’s hard not to fall in love with her contagious smile. She was born with a rare condition that has limited her ability to walk or run like other children her age. Bella is new to BME, and her teacher Ann Bell saw first hand the need for playground equipment that Bella could utilize. 

“I have been an Intensive Intervention teacher at BME for several years now,” said Mrs. Bell. “Knowing it is costly, but hoping for the best, I requested a handicap accessible swing. With the help of our Principal Michael Benigno and our wonderful Black Mountain Schools Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) that dream of having the swing finally came true this Spring as it was the focus of our fall fundraiser.”

With a team effort from the school, PTO, and community partners two new swings were installed for students who use wheelchairs. The PTO wanted to make sure that all students were given the opportunity to play outside. 

“Last year I sent out a wish list to our teachers trying to find out what types of things they may run out of by the middle of the year,” said PTO President Katie Duvall. “I also put an extra space for any other needs that may not have been listed. Ms. Bell wrote that she would like to see something for her wheelchair using students to be able to use on the playground. [Our PTO] knew we needed to come up with a solution. After raising the money, we picked and paid for a wheelchair accessible swing as well as a swing seat to accommodate any future students who attend BME.”

Mr. Benigno said it’s truly amazing seeing everyone come together to make this addition to the school possible and that it adds more giggles and joy to students’ time outside.

“There is no better feeling than seeing something done for the right reason, in the right season, for a situation that was needing the right solution,” he said. “Witnessing the amount of love everyone poured into this project makes my heart so happy, I think it might just burst.”

This project not only has made an impact in Bella’s life, but for future students like her as well. 

“It is extremely exciting to see Bella smiling as she enjoys them,” Mrs. Bell said. “I also feel great satisfaction knowing that before I retire in the near future, something I requested came to fruition and will be in place for many students with special needs in the future.”

Bella’s mom is delighted with the amount of care and attention her daughter has received just this year at BME. She says she feels like this is Bella’s second home and is forever grateful for the love they show her day in and day out. 

“It is truly an honor that Isabella has already made such a huge impact at BME,” Jennifer Proctor explained. “She is a fighter and she inspires so many others around her from her classmates to teachers and administrators. There is something truly special about BME and this community. I know my child is truly in the best hands possible, and that's the greatest feeling ever as a parent!”

The PTO says they have more aspirations for BME and that they are not finished yet on making it a wonderful place for every child to enjoy. 

“With the other money that BME raised, we are going to add a kickball field, volleyball net, and two picnic tables with umbrellas,” said Ms. Duvall. “Our goal next year is to update some of the other playground equipment as well.”

Bella's mom pushing her on the swing.