Douglas Road Case Study Gandee Brothers

Case Study: Douglas Road Elementary School

Brothers Creating Awareness

Often a small gesture to raise awareness can lead to big ideas and communities takingaction. Braden has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movement, muscle coordination, and balance.For several years, the brothers embarked on a journey together, as Hunter carried his brother on his back in an effort to raise awareness about cerebral palsy and disabilities in general.

Hunter expressed that he is inspired by just seeing his brother fight through struggles and by how he approaches everything with a positive attitude. 

“My siblings and I are just like normal siblings.We fight, laugh, and have fun together. Braden just has some extra needs, so we have to be there for him a little extra. Our goal is to challenge the world at all levels to take the necessary steps towards inclusion.”

Inspired to Take Action

School staff, parents, students, and the Parent Teacher Association of Douglas Road Elementary, where Braden attends school, were moved by the Gandee’s story early on, and worked closely together to provide a new inclusive playground that would reflect the school’s mission of creating an environment that promotes strong relationships and ensures that all students can succeed. 

Celebrating Inclusion 

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After a year and half of preparation and fundraising, volunteers led a community build to install the playground. Upon opening, the entire student body gathered together, wearing complementary pirate attire, to set sail on the new pirate-themed vessel.

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Carol Perz, School Principal, addressed the students, teachers, and parents, as well as local dignitaries, which included Lt. Governor Brian Calley, to thank them for their dedication and support. “We have traveled a long way in search of a place where all kids can play together,” Perz said during the unveiling ceremony for the school’s new “CP Swagger Shipyard.”

Prior to the installation of the new playground, Braden was only able to ride his power chair around the blacktop or use his walker. Braden expressed his excitement about the new inclusive playground to the local ABC news affiliate, “It’s just a good feeling. Now I can go out and play with my friends.” 

“I wish that people would realize that people with CP are just like other people,” Braden expressed. “They just have to work a little bit harder.

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