SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – A new all-inclusive playground is open at McBride Elementary. And it’s named Mr. Nick’s playground in honor of former special education teacher, Nick Hostler.
Nick Hostler’s dream as a special education teacher started out with an inclusive swing for his students.
“He shared very heartfelt concerns that involved the word play,” Mary Kay Hostler, Nick’s mother, says. “We now stand near the ground, where all children of all abilities can play together.”
After Nick died unexpectedly of a heart attack over two years ago, his parents decided to make his dream a reality. Rather than just a swing, Mr. Nick’s is now an inclusive playground with equipment for kids of all abilities.
“I think it’s important to know that a small dream can become a big reality and I think this playground is proof of that,” Mary Kay Hostler says.
“He had a way of making people feel special,” Gil Hostler, Nick’s father, says. “That they could do more. That they could be better than what they are.”
The $450,000 project features easy-access ramps, zip line swings and a ground level merry-go-round.
One Springfield family says this new playground will impact their lives personally.
“Play is just a fun time for all and this should just give everyone the ability to do just that,” Eric Schnabel, parent, says.
“I think the biggest thing is that we have someone who it’s harder for her to do certain things that her big sister can do, but now they can do them together,” Breanne Schnabel, parent, says.
The new playground borders McBride Park as well, making it available to the entire community. During school hours, the playground is exclusively open to the elementary students.
“Everybody is one right now,” Breanne Schnabel says. “It doesn’t matter who you are and how you do things. You can all go in the same entrance and all leave the same.”
Mary Kay and Gil Hostler say their son had the power of one, meaning he was able to spread his love and inspiration to all his students.
“It was inclusive,” Gil Hostler says. “It didn’t matter who you were. If you were a good person, you were his friend.”
Now, Nick Hostler’s legacy lives on with one of the largest inclusive playgrounds in southwest Missouri.
“It says a lot about Springfield,” Gil Hostler says. “The fact that we needed help to do this and they were there.”
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