Friday, September 6, 2013

Playground construction commences at Windham Primary School - By Elizabeth Richards

Construction has begun on one of the two planned playground pods for the new play area at the Windham Primary School. The new plan consolidates two current play areas into one larger one on the A House side of the Primary School property. When complete, the area will include not only the two steel play equipment pods, but also two swing sets, a basketball court, baseball field, grass play area and a walking path, according to Michelle Jordan, who is the playground coordinator for a parent group committed to fundraising for the project. 

Jordan said the playground will replace outdated equipment that was installed 23 years ago when the school was built. Additionally, she said, the equipment will eliminate the issues that come with a “one size fits all” playground. “The new play areas will be designed to accommodate kids of all sizes and needs in grades K to 3,” she said. This will include having equipment at varying heights and ADA accessible platforms. The new area will also be fenced in all around, addressing safety concerns caused by the current areas, which are open to parking lots, roads and the high school athletic fields, said Jordan.

The original goal was to have this first playground pod installed before school began, said Jordan, but Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit delays meant that the construction must happen while school is in session. “Thankfully, we’re able to fence off part of the play area so that the kids can be in school and use the space, but at the same time we can have construction happening alongside of it,” said Jordan. The hope is that the new equipment will be installed and ready to use by early October, she added.

The manufacturer selected, Miracle Recreation Equipment Company, will be doing the base installation of the first playground pod, to put in support posts, and then there will be a “community build,” Jordan said. They will be looking for members of the community to help put the play set together, in order to save money on the project. This will happen towards the end of September or early October. After that, the goal is to have the remainder of the project completed next summer. 

Fundraising efforts for this project began in March of 2013, and to date close to $30,000 has been raised. Even over the summer, fundraising efforts continued, bringing in over $3,000. Fundraising events have included a beach party with silent auction and basket raffle, restaurant fundraisers, an online auction, and a Pennies for Playground penny drive. The playground fund has also been a beneficiary of events held in the community, including 5K runs, and Music with a Mission at the North Windham Union Church. They received a donation through Walmart’s community giving program, and local companies have sponsored some pieces of the playground. All of these efforts allowed more than half of the $50,000 goal to be raised in just five months. 

The playground equipment will cost $125,000 total. “The school budget will pay for the overall project and our fundraising will help offset the costs,” said Jordan. “It will also allow us to put more into the area than if we had to rely on school funds alone.” 

The budget that was passed in June allocated funds for the other construction happening at the Primary School, including a bus loop, parent drop off loop, new parking area and road widening, as well as the first phase of the playground project, said Jordan. In order to complete the full play area next summer, additional funds from the school budget will be required. “By continuing to raise money, we will be able to help offset what is needed to help ensure the project is completed next year,” Jordan said. 

At this time, no specific fundraising events are scheduled. “At this point, what we’re really looking for are people who are interested in making a donation or sponsoring a piece of the playground. If somebody wanted to sponsor a swing, or a slide, we’re looking for anyone who might be interested in making donations in that regard,” said Jordan. The group is taking September to allow people to settle back into the school year routines before setting up other specific fundraising events. “It takes a while to get back into the routine of things,” said Jordan.

Information on the project is posted on the Windham Primary School Playground Facebook page, or can be obtained by emailing Jordan at

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