Hundreds of people worked together to raise more than $80,000 for the new West Side Elementary All Abilities Playground. Now, the Parent Teacher Organization and WSE faculty invite the community to a ribbon cutting to celebrate the success of this project. The ribbon cutting will take place at the school on Thursday, Sep. 14 at noon.
“We have students and community members who have special physical needs, and it was important to us to build a safe place for children and families of all abilities to engage in fun, physical activity,” said Regina May, PTO Treasurer. “We are so thankful to the community for helping to make this playground a reality,” said May.
Principal John Wright said May, Dr. Alainya Hare and Lisa Simerly were the driving forces behind this project, spending countless hours raising money and writing grants. “This playground is the result of a lot of hard work and a caring community that cares about their children’s needs,” said Wright.
PTO Members began raising money in Spring 2015. Hundreds of donations ranging from pennies to $20,000 made it possible. WSE PTO gives special thanks to Sam, Marlo, Drew and Robin LaPorte, the City of Elizabethton, and Walmart of Elizabethton.
The LaPortes donated time and services in the planning phase as well as significant financial support. The City replaced existing sidewalks with ADA compliant walkways leading to the playground and provided funding. Through the Walmart Community Grant Program and the associates of the Elizabethton store, the project received nearly $10,000. Two associates, Joan Carr (Self Check Out Host) and Lisa Shell (Manager) headed up a community ham dinner for the school which raised approximately $7,500. When additional funding was still needed, the City was gracious to provide the remaining funds.
In addition, numerous families made significant donations including Michael and Jackie Harris of Johnson City Dairy Queen, Dr. Rakesh and Eketa Patel, Stephen and Jamie Scott, Modern Woodmen of Elizabethton and some anonymous families. There were also hundreds of small but vital donations contributed through PTO fundraising events such as dances, carnivals, and walkathons that collectively amounted to over $30,000.
Increasing and improving physical activity infrastructure has been the focus of the PTO for years at WSE. Now with this project complete, May said the PTO is currently exploring options to improve the school campus to make it more inviting to families after hours. “We would love to add a pavilion for shade and resurface the deteriorating track,” said May. “Recognizing the need for increased physical activity, we are committed to helping the school and community provide safe and engaging opportunities.”