San Antonio nonprofit builds accessible playground, outdoor space for hard-of-hearing kids

Grant from Lowe’s helped Aid the Silent renovate sidewalks, redo an outdoor space into a stage and build a deaf-accessible playground

SAN ANTONIO – Emma Faye Rudkin said the new playground at her nonprofit, Aid the Silent, has no simple design.

“We designed it where it has limited static electricity,” Rudkin said. “When I was growing up, I always felt lonely on the playground. That’s where I felt like I couldn’t belong or understand. I played by myself a lot.”

Aid the Silent is a San Antonio nonprofit that advocates and supports the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Rudkin said she first started the organization when she was 18, but she had longed for a sense of belonging since the age of 3 when she went profoundly deaf.

“We were made for a purpose and for a reason,” Rudkin said. “That’s the purpose of this playground. It’s a place for them to belong.”

Rudkin said typical playgrounds with turf and plastic sides are difficult to use for children with cochlear implants. That’s because the static a person creates when using plastic slides can alter the programming of these surgical devices.

Rudkin said that means kids either have to take off the devices at the playground or risk losing their function. This new playground minimizes the area for static electricity, like having a metal slide instead of a plastic one.

These improvements were largely made possible because of Lowe’s Home Improvement. Aid the Silent was one of 100 community-nominated projects selected for the 2023 Lowe’s Hometowns community impact program. They received a grant to renovate sidewalks, redo an outdoor space into a stage and build a deaf-accessible playground.

“It is just amazing to me how much I’ve learned from this project,” said Jason Hinton, a Lowe’s store manager in San Antonio.

It aligns in time with their 6th annual Gala, set for Nov. 4. The nonprofit’s official opening of the playground and stage is Nov. 15.

Click here to learn more about the nonprofit organization or how to support it.

About the Authors:

Avery Everett is a news reporter and multimedia journalist at KSAT 12 News. Avery is a Philadelphia native. If she’s not at the station, she’s either on a hiking or biking trail. A lover of charcuterie boards and chocolate chip cookies, Avery’s also looking forward to eating her way through San Antonio, one taco shop at a time!

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.