Teacher raising money for more inclusive playground equipment

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A devoted teacher, whose students are primarily those with physical disabilities, has made it her mission to have an adaptive swing set built in the neighborhood of one of her students who has cerebral palsy.

"I think it's beneficial that all kids can play on the same playground, because kids and adults can learn a lot from each other and learn about other people with special needs," said Madison Olson.

Olson was inspired by 5-year-old Angelique Rocha, who goes by Gigi.

Gigi lives in Ponderosa Forest, a neighborhood near Ella Boulevard and Cypress Creek Parkway. The neighborhood has long been a home to empty lots that have been vacant for years.

"She's the princess of the house," said Gigi's mom, Erin Rocha. "Everyone adores her and our world revolves around her. We can't go to the park, she can't climb anything. When we try to put her on a swing, we have to take blankets or scarves to wrap her, to hold her head. It's very difficult."

The neighborhood's HOA board president, Michael Jenkins, said he plans on getting approval to build the playground, one that Gigi's family hopes she'll be able to enjoy.

"Because I sit in a wheelchair, it is not so easy for me to sit in the swing like the rest of my friends," said Gigi.

Jenkins vowed to have a more inclusive swing set added, but money is needed to buy the swing first. Olson has since set up GoFundMe to raise the money.

She's raised more than $900 in a week.

According to the GoFundMe page, the adaptive swing set will cost $3,000 to install in her neighborhood playground.

Gigi's mom said she's proud of her family and Gigi's siblings, who all do what they can to take care of their sister.

"They're always there for her, they do everything and anything to make her life fun and happy. She gets emotional because she knows," said Rocha.
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