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APS special education complex gets new playground

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A child plays with the Imagination Playground in a Cart, an interactive collection of stackable foam pieces for building and playing, for the first time at the ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Public Schools Aztec Special Education Complex. The play set was debuted last week after being donated to the complex. (Courtesy APS)

Albuquerque Public Schools Aztec Special Education Complex is now home to a unique playground.

Its new “Imagination Playground in a Cart” is an interactive collection of giant stackable and connecting foam pieces for students to build and play with.

APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta said it’s the first playground of its kind within the district.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico and nonprofit KaBOOM! partnered with the APS Education Foundation, a nonprofit established to promote private support of the district, to provide the new playground equipment.

The Imagination Playground cost about $25,000, according to BCBSNM.

“We look forward to seeing the imaginative structures that students at the APS Aztec Special Education Complex will create with this equipment,” Janice Torrez, divisional vice president of external affairs and chief of staff, said in a statement.

KaBOOM! spokeswoman Caroline Finnell said APS was chosen by BCBSNM for the donation specifically because of the work it is doing with students with special needs.

Students at the complex, who range from 3 years old to 22, are medically fragile, have autism or other intensive special needs, according to APS.

“Our Imagination Playground sets … are unique in their ability to engage kids of all ages and abilities,” said Finnell.

The students broke in the play set last week.

“The APS Aztec Special Education Complex provides core resources and ancillary spaces to serve more than half of the state’s most severe special needs students and their families,” wrote Superintendent Raquel Reedy in a statement. “We are grateful for the interactive learning provided by the Imagination Playground supporting social, physical, spatial and creative growth opportunities.”

APS opened the $22 million Aztec Special Education Complex at 2611 Eubank NE last year after four years of planning and construction.

Funding from bond money went toward the facility, which has 65,000 square feet of intensive special needs space and two accessible playgrounds on the campus.

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