Some special-needs students at Colerain Elementary School rarely get to go outside, teacher Brian Kraft said.

Many travel in school buses from their apartments to their classrooms and back again, he said.

That's why a proposed "wellness path" would be a "game-changer," said Chris Williams, a second-grade, special-education teacher at the school.

Colerain Elementary is a special place, said Eileen Eyman, the mother of fifth- and third-graders and the school's parent consultant. It is a neighborhood school for families living near the East Weisheimer Road building but also a magnet school for children with special needs, including those who use wheelchairs and walkers.

It provides a unique learning atmosphere that promotes diversity and social interaction among all students, according to the Columbus City Schools website.

About half of the students have mobility issues and a third are what's termed "medically fragile," said Eyman, who is heading a campaign to raise the estimated $70,000 needed to build the quarter-mile, 8-foot-wide wellness path on school grounds.

"It would be a game-changer for them being more independent, being healthier," Williams said.

"It would be huge for my students," Kraft said.

"This path is going to be a great thing for our students to work on their mobility and get stronger. I think it's going to be a real boon for the neighborhood."

The path would replace an existing one that is in disrepair and often cannot be negotiated in a wheelchair, Eyman said.

"Sometimes it's underwater," she said.

So far, about half of the funds needed for the project have been raised, Eyman said. The hope is to have the full amount to complete the project in the spring, she said. If there is not enough money by that time, half of the path would be constructed and the other section would be built in a second phase, she said.

"We'd certainly like to do it all at once because it would be most cost-effective," Eyman said.

Eyman said her two daughters have thrived in the atmosphere at Colerain Elementary, as have other students who are not medically fragile or don't have mobility problems.

"I think what the kids get is a daily lesson in compassion and decency," she said.

Those interested in helping with the path project or who want more information may email colerainpta@gmail.com.

The Columbus Foundation also is collecting donations for the project at tinyurl.com/colerainpath.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1