This article is written by Jeff Toquinto with “Connect Bridgeport

There have been bigger donations to Bridgeport-related projects in terms of dollars, but there may not have been bigger in terms of impact given to the city Monday as Mayor Andy Lang accepted a $200 check to go toward the all-inclusive playground at The Bridge.

Four students from Pierpont Rapid Intellectual Disabilities Education (PRIDE) program of the Pierpont Community & Technical College made the check presentation during last night’s City Council meeting. And the small crowd on hand gave the group a rousing ovation.

“It’s a brand-new program (for students out of high) at Pierpont at the (Gaston) Caperton Center in Clarksburg that is for special needs students,” said Director Darin Walker, who added the program takes 16 students and most of the spaces are already filled for next year. “They work on life skills, occupational skills, social skills and communication skills in very small class sizes.”

One of the programs allowed students in the class to run a coffee cart at the Caperton Center to teach responsibility and create interaction with other students and faculty. They also would go to the Clarksburg Fire Department on Main Street, the Clarksburg Library, and a few other stops. While the coffee was free, there was a tip jar.

“By the end of the semester we were trying to decide what to do with the money,” said Walker. “Through Mayor Lang, we had a preview of the playground … I thought what better place for special needs students to donate money than an all-inclusive playground.”

That money will now make its way into the Friends of Bridgeport Recreation, which accepts donations for various projects, and be reserved to help fund the playground that is moving closer to fruition.

Lang actually got to meet the students speaking to them about government. He also showed them The Bridge Sports and Recreation Complex where he humbly admitted to getting bested in pickle ball in a matchup with one of the students. Now, those same students have helped with the next big addition at the same complex.

“This is what it’s all about right here. This is why we’re doing this,” said Parks and Recreation Director Joe Shuttleworth. “This is the ultimate heartwarming part of doing what we’re doing.”

The Pride program is two days a week during the school year. It lasts for five hours a day. For information about the program, contact Walker at

NOTE: Photo credit to Connect Bridgeport.