A couple of years ago, Lawrence Elementary Principal Chris Benisch and his staff began dreaming about a new playground. And after receiving a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant, the dream is becoming a reality.
“We want this to be a place where kids can play safely, have a variety of equipment to use that will help them with balance and strength, but that’s also fun,” Benisch said.
That first grant of $7,000 meant Lawrence officials could begin designing the much-needed update to the playground at 5611 Zephyr St. used by 365 students in pre-kindergarten to sixth grade. Established in 1900, the school has gone through several updates and renovations, but the playground was left untouched.
Now, the school is seeking up to $100,000 to make the new playground a reality.
The project is estimated at $133,000, and to help win the GOCO grant, Lawrence is seeking the community’s help with the rest. After some generous in-kind and volunteer assistance, the school is still seeking $13,300.
“There’s a huge bonus in involving the community in this, because it’s not just our involvement, the students’ involvement, the parents’,” Benisch said. “It’s the community that says this is a worthwhile endeavor to be a part of.”
Lawrence staff is working with students, parents, the Olde Town community, the City of Arvada and the Jefferson County School District’s grant office to create a playground students can enjoy for years to come.
“We want to have a place that they can take a great sense of pride in,” saidAngela Rowlette, Lawrence’s family liaison. “We want to encourage physical activity in multiple ways.”
The playground will consist of new structures, slides, a fenced-in preschool play zone, an outdoor classroom, a possible walking track and more, a majority or all of which will be accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The school’s existing 150-square-foot playground, while functional, has high, unreachable aluminum bars, limited and aging equipment, and is not handicap accessible.
“We have a vision of what that looks like and I have to make sure that it is shared with the kids, the parents and the community,” Benisch said.
“Whether they have children in this school or not, this will help children become healthy, responsible citizens,” Benisch said. “We just want to make it a fun place for families.”