Weber School Foundation: Mountain Life Podcast Episode 3

Weber School Foundation: Mountain Life Podcast EP. 3

All Abilities Playground Roy Utah

Weber School Foundation: Mountain Life Podcast EP. 3

An Educational Non-Profit Organization

Executive Director: Chris Zimmerman

Occupational Therapist: Mona Overstag

Board Member: Brandi Hammon

When special needs students desired an accessible playground, the Weber School Foundation funded an all-abilities area at North Park Roy Elementary, uniting kids and making it the most popular school playground. “Like Any Other Kid” is the motto fueling how the Weber School Foundation invests in programs, structures, and technology serving special needs students in Weber County.

The Weber School Foundation also funds iPads for autism, educational field trips, and pilot programs for the Weber School District including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Literacy, and Fine Arts.

weber school foundation playground

Very little overhead allows the Weber School Foundation to direct 98% of donated money directly into programs serving Weber County students. Once a year, the Foundation hosts a Christmas Tree Jubilee Fundraiser specifically for special needs students. Other fundraising events include golf tournaments, AmazonSmile.com purchases, United Way payroll deduction, and direct donations.

Managing endowments is another critical component of the Weber School Foundation. The interest from the initial gift to the Swanson Environmental Center managed by the Foundation has kept the Environmental Center up to date with the latest technology as well as covering expenses related to building upkeep.

Weber School Foundation Executive Director, Chris Zimmerman, along with Occupational Therapist, Mona Overstag, sat down with Mountain Luxury’s Brandi Hammon to provide insight into the impact the Foundation has on the lives of students in our community.

Watch the full podcast here:

Words From Mona

The Foundation interacts with us, they’ve got the Foundation fundraiser Christmas Tree Jubilee specifically for kids with special needs and the money from that goes into a pool and allows people who work with kids with special needs in Ogden City School District and Weber School District to put in applications for equipment and services that enrich the lives of kids with disabilities. It makes them more independent and allows them to be a part of the community as well as their families.

Words From Zimmerman

We started about three years ago and the concept of “Like Any Other Kid” is these students with disabilities just want to be like everybody else at school. They don’t want to be treated different. So, Mona will come up with anything she can buy (she loves to spend our money) if it will make a special needs child feel like any other kid.

The program started with iPads, that turned into bicycles, we’ve taken girls skiing up at Snowbasin, a brand new skateboard for a little girl who couldn’t walk. We’ll do anything with that money to enrich those lives.

mountain life podcast weber school foundation

All Abilities Playground: The goal is to make the special needs kids feel like any other kid. So we didn’t want to put them in their own playground off a hundred yards away. This playground (Northpark in Roy) has become the most popular part of the entire playground. They have hundreds of yards of playgrounds at this school all brand new. Where are all the kids? On the playground we built for the special needs children and they’re playing together.

STEM: Our District (Weber) does a wonderful job of putting out the curriculum and offering as much as we can to our students. Where the foundation comes in is there’s so much more our teachers want to try. (So what the other part of the foundation does…) We’re really pushing STEM so, Green Acres Elementary has a wonderful program of teaching students, but there’s a group of them interested in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

But, they (Green Acres) don’t have the money to do it. We as a foundation stepped in and supported that STEM program. Now, they’re going to the world championships this year for robotics.

Literacy: Second priority is Literacy. We support our Chinese immersion and our Spanish immersion, which everybody loves. It’s a fight to get in those programs. The district funds the program but we supported it. They needed more books, so we supported it. Literacy for the mainstream child – they needed more library books. They’re expensive. The district does a good job getting textbooks, teachers, classrooms, but more was needed. Over the last three to four year’s we supported over a hundred thousand dollars in level reading libraries.

Fine Arts: We do support Fine Arts. We support our district art show. Amazing, amazing talent. You come look at the Eccles Art Center when they display our students district Art Show and you just say, “High school kids did this? Junior high kids painted these things? It’s amazing. Music. We have incredible music programs with people involved in choir and people involved in band and this is their life. You want to talk about athletics going after scholarships, band goes after scholarships and those parents come together and we step in and help with instruments. We step in and help with awards. So, we’re involved in everything that we can to enhance more than the district can handle. They (the district) get it started, but we’ll go out and pilot those new programs.

Check out the most recent Weber School Foundation project, adaptive trail chairs! These mechanisms allow people of all abilities to go explore Utah’s incredible outdoors.

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