For over 30 years neighboring sand dunes have destroyed the outdoor space at Hopkins Hill Elementary School, a title 1 school in Coventry, RI. The school has had issues with dirt bikes, drug paraphernalia, and construction debris on school property. During extremely windy days, the school has had to cancel recess. For the last 3 years the PTA has worked hard to revitalize the space including lobbying the school committee for a fence, hosting fundraisers like our Chase the Rainbow Color Run/Walk, planting trees with the RI Tree Council, and an upcoming project with the Girl Scouts of Southern New England to build an outdoor classroom.
But the price tag for a new certified playground, the only kind approved by the school’s insurance company, is still far out of reach. The playground pictured in the video costs $65,000 plus $5000 for ground covering (mulch, etc), and then an additional cost for installation. With our average yearly donation rate, it would take the PTA over 20 years to save enough money for a new playground.
In Coventry, the PTAs are responsible for playground equipment. Our current playground is old and situated near the parking lot without a fence. Additionally the insurance company has deemed many of the structures unsafe for grades k & 1, leaving them without many recess options despite the fact that free play is essential to learning. Research shows that “play is not frivolous: it enhances brain structure and function and promotes executive function (ie, the process of learning, rather than the content), which allow us to pursue goals and ignore distractions” (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/3/e20182058 ).
A new playground would not only benefit the nearly 400 students enrolled at the school, but the neighboring community as well. As a Title 1 school 45% or more of our student body qualify for free or reduced lunch. The school also runs a food pantry open to students and members of the local community. A small group of students, in conjunction with a reading teacher, are currently planning a little free library for the school grounds. The PTA wants the grounds to match the goals and spirit of the school, to provide for the students and the community. Please help.
The Hopkins Hill PTA thanks you for your time and generosity.