Emma Lindner

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Being an entrepreneur can be about more than working for one’s own profit. Emma Lindner, a 9-year-old Katy ISD student, recently raised $25,000 to purchase a piece of wheelchair- accessible playground equipment for special needs students at Shafer Elementary.

Lindner was involved with the “Special Buddies” program on campus and she saw that her buddy John Hitt—who cannot talk or walk unassisted—was unable to enjoy the playground equipment at recess like the rest of the students.

“I saw John out here on the sidelines and said ‘That’s not fair, why can’t he be out here with the rest of us?'” Emma said.

When she returned home, Emma and her mother went online to learn about wheelchair accessible play equipment and put together a fundraising effort.

After six months of garage sales, campus and district lobbying efforts, and enlisting the help of the “Be An Angel” fund, their efforts paid off.

In late May the school unveiled the new piece of play equipment, called the “Sway Fun Glider.” The device is about the size of a small car and can fit two wheelchairs. Students shift their weight to rock the glider back and forth. It features a loading ramp, tick-tack-toe game—even cup holders.

Emma and her mother were responsible for about $20,000 of the total. The school’s PTA paid for the installation. Katy ISD paved the sidewalk and extended the fall zone mulch, Emma’ mother, Heather, said.

In the fall, Emma is headed to Stanley Elementary for the fourth grade. Administrators have already approached Emma about helping get a similar piece of equipment there and starting a “Special Buddies” program.

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