Social Learning Center Opens At BU

By WBNG News

July 22, 2010 Updated Nov 1, 2008 at 11:04 PM EST

A new social learning center opens at Binghamton University.

It's turning the classroom into an outdoor education adventure.

Action News Reporter Julianne Sweeney shows us how a playground

Children and their parents race to the playground.

But it's more than your average neighborhood playground.

It's the Shamrock 5 Social Learning Center at Binghamton University's Institute for Child Development.

"It's a day that the kids get the gift of playing and learning outside," said Maureen Yacynych, parent and supporter.

The social learning center is specially designed for children with autism and other developmental disorders.

It includes a basketball court, an amphitheater, and 10 play stations.

Teachers believe it can help develop communication skills through group activities.

But there's a backup plan if a child needs to take smaller steps when interacting with others.

"Have play areas that are very quiet, separated, so out children that have some anxiety about interacting can start there," said Dr. Ray Romancyzk, Binghamton University Professor.

"The playground doesn't have wood chips or gravel on the ground because kids tend to fall at the playground. Instead, a soft spongey surface to minimize injury," said Julianne Sweeney, Action News reporter.

There's even a traffic light on the playground.

It teaches the children what to do when crossing the street.

"To see her happy and learning, um, is just beyond...it goes back to how do you possibly thank the people who made this possible. You can't," said Yacynych.

"I think in life, there's nothing greater than seeing a smile on a child's face and seeing them enjoy and play and be happy," said Kim Myers, philanthropist and supporter.

These parents all agree that this playground could be the key to unlocking their children's happiness.

75 children are enrolled in the Institute for Child Development.

It took 5 years of planning and 650-thousand dollars to complete the new Social Learning Center.

If you would like to make a donation to maintain the playground, go to the website http://givetobinghamton.edu.

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