Special Learning Center Hosts Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in Celebration of New Playground

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Special Learning Center celebrated the grand opening of their new playground Friday morning with a ribbon cutting ceremony. 

The center won $50,000 through the Pepsi Refresh Contest and created a handi-cap accessible playground.

"Really, our whole community built this playground," Debbie Hamler, Director of the Special Learning Center, said. "I just want to thank every person who even voted just one time for us to win our playground, because it really paid off. We came in second place and we just did great. It was because our community really loves our children and they love the Special Learning Center."

Children at the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated by playing on their brand new playground, enjoying refreshments and live piano music from one of the school's alumni members, 11-year-old, Samuel Luetkemeyer. Former St. Louis Cardinals star, Tom Henke, was also in attendance at the celebration to sign autographs and give out signed baseballs. Henke's daughter attended school at the Special Learning Center and he said the Learning Center was a place that helped give her a big step off in life.

"When something affects you personally, you work a little harder at it," Henke said. "I'm glad to be able to come out and support one of what I think is one of our treasures here in mid-Missouri."

Henke said that everybody needs to come out and get a look into the Special Learning Center to see what a special place it is.

"I think there's a little bit of a stigma in Missouri, where special needs kids sometimes just get shoved aside, they don't think they're a valuable part of our society which couldn't be further from the truth." Henke said. "My daughter Amanda has taught me a lot of things i've learned so much from watching kids that struggled to do things that we take for granted."

Hamler said she is grateful for everybody who voted for the center to win the new playground.