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There’s no such thing as ‘You can’t.’

Jowonio preschool and Syracuse University team up to create a tree house for children of all abilities

Students part of the Syracuse University architecture program pose in front of the Play Perch they designed and built for students at Jowonio, a preschool that specializes in inclusive education.

Students part of the Syracuse University architecture program pose in front of the Play Perch they designed and built for students at Jowonio, a preschool that specializes in inclusive education.

— So Jowonio contacted Syracuse University for help. Representatives from S.U. were on board with the project and created a class for architecture students to design and build the Play Perch during the 2012-13 school year. Antonacci said that originally, the class was supposed to be for only one semester. But because donations and support continued to come in throughout the year, the tree house grew in ideas and possibilities.

The students officially began the project in September. They worked long hours in the rain and snow and over school breaks to make sure the tree house was completed by the deadline. Antonacci said she was overwhelmed by the student’s dedication to both the project and the Jowonio students.

“We were an actual customer for them, it wasn’t like they were just taking a test or writing a paper,” she said. “They were working so hard and interacting with our kids at the same time. Our kids kept coming up to watch the process and see how it was coming along. The students would let them hammer in a nail, show them what they were doing or let them try their hard hat on. Their hearts were completely invested in Jowonio.”

Antonacci said one of the greatest things about the Play Perch is that it represents what the school has been providing for 42 years: an opportunity to show students that if they believe in themselves, they can do anything their friends can do.

“Kids may come to school thinking ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do that,’ but they will not leave here without being able to do it,” said Antonacci. “We do everything we can so that everybody can do the same things. We find a way to make it happen so everyone can participate. Our philosophy here is ‘There’s no such thing as you can’t.’”

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