Hello! My name is Gahlya Auel and I am thrilled to be a part of the Harper’s Playground Associate Board. I have been a volunteer for Harper’s Playground since the beginning so this is a very exciting role for me. I grew up in Portland, OR and was part of a Spanish immersion program from kindergarten through high school. I earned a degree in psychology and Spanish, and then went on to earn additional degrees to support my desire to become a school psychologist. I have been doing for the past 10 years in the state of Washington. One of the biggest parts of my jobs is to collaborate with teachers as well as provide guidance and support to allow children with developmental delays or special need to be a part of their classroom community and find success and enjoyment. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling, reading, doing yoga, and eating good food. My next goal is to learn how to play the piano!
Harper’s Playground is both a personal and professional passion of mine. While Harper is my cousin, which makes this project personally important to me, I have also spent my entire professional career working towards inclusion in public education. Apart from the fact that all research done on this topic demonstrates the positive effects of inclusion for all parties, I think that this is something that inside of us we can all understand. Don’t we all just want to play? Isn’t more fun to play and learn together? Isn’t it better when everyone can participate? Harper’s Playground is taking action of providing communities with opportunities to play and learn together one park at a time. They are also spreading this concept to many other communities and have ignited passion for this project around the country. This is a fun, engaging, meaningful, and productive team that I have had the pleasure to work with and look forward to working with them more and seeing what Harper’s Playground has in their future!