Playgrounds provide an ideal space for children’s minds to grow through adventure and imagination. Their presence at elementary schools and preschools is necessary for a full-rounded education, as things like creativity can’t be taught in a classroom — in fact, regular play is known to be involved in the development of at least 400 genes in the cerebral cortex. Unfortunately, many schools simply do not have the money to either implement or upgrade playgrounds on their property.
Such was the case for Kennedy Elementary School in Kingsport, Tennessee. With some pieces of equipment dating back to the 1950s, Kennedy Principal Janice Irvin realized something needed to be done. The school’s funding policy regarding recreational use (such as going toward school playground equipment) was not forgiving: they needed to raise the money from fundraising and donations, rather than pull from the school’s budget.
Irvin took her job seriously and organized a half-marathon that raised a remarkable $30,000. As student walkathon added another $5,000, and one student, Layne Knight, raised $500 through her church, Morrison Chapel United Methodist. While they achieved an astounding feat, the original goal was $160,000. However, hope was not lost!
Following a change in the Kingsport Board of Education which allowed it’s members to vote, they all unanimously to use the school budget to hire Barge Design Solutions for “civil and landscape architectural design services” — a.k.a., playground design.
“I am hopeful that our school will have a new playground by the end of this (2018-19) school year,” Irvin said, a timeline which, given the decision agreed upon by the school board, could become reality.
Once they have board approval on a budget, they can get to work! Custom playgrounds allow practically limitless opportunities for fun; from horse spring riders to playground climbing walls, the children of Kennedy Elementary will discover the joy that recess can bring. They’ll also be discovering what hard work and dedication can do: their own efforts to fundraise and work together is going to be bringing the best school playground equipment to their communities.