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Fairland East Playground Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

From the Herald-Dispatch:

Children were chanting the word “play” leading up to the ribbon cutting of the new playground at Fairland East Elementary School on Thursday. It is open to the community after four years of anticipation and fundraising.

“It is a state-of-the-art accessible playground design. We’ve got a lot of specific features that help to facilitate play for kids with any kind of physical or developmental delay as well as just, you know, everyday kids,” said Allison Ferguson, president of the Fairland East Playground Fund and fourth grade teacher at Fairland West.

The research-based design includes a warrior fitness course, mega tower, musical instrument, several types of swings, sensory panels, a buddy rocker and soft play area. The new play area provides safe spaces for more than 200 students to play at a time.

“Our old playground was outdated, it was separated. It separated children with traditional abilities and kiddos who, you know, were differently abled and that was really not OK with me and not with that group of ladies. So this really started out as just a group of moms with a vision and through our amazing community and the help of the Fairland School Board who funded the rest of it. We were able to raise $135,000 towards this project, but the project was $335,000. So the school district used some COVID funding to make up the difference and just really created a structure where everyone is able to play. So we’re just so grateful. It’s an amazing day,” Ferguson said.

The children and parents who came to the ribbon cutting were very excited for the event.

Kim Kemp came to watch her two grandchildren use the new playground. She says they’ve been excited about it for awhile and talk about it a lot.

“It’s a place where the kids can get together and play and the parents can sit here and watch them and know that they’re OK and safe,” Kemp said.

“It’s a new playground and it’s different and it has more stuff to do,” said Zarah Taylor, 8.

Zarah says her favorite part so far is the monkey bars. She was at the playground with her sister and mom, Nikki Farmer.

“My oldest used to come home with splinters all the time but now they have a nice new playground to play with,” Farmer said. The old playground was made of wood.

She and Zarah helped fundraise for the playground by selling T-shirts and coupon books.

There also were bake sales and car washes and even a “dad bod car wash” where a bunch of students’ fathers washed cars.

“This is what happens when a community comes together and works to fulfill a dream and a true need. There’s nothing like this at this end of the county,” Ferguson said about their fundraising efforts.

The playground was designed, purchased, and installed by Playground Equipment Services (PES). In addition to the Miracle Recreation play equipment and Percussion Play brand musical equipment, PES offered services including sales, design, site development, installation, safety surface and site amenities. It also provided additional access to expert resources, including academic research.

“The possibilities to enhance physical activity, creativity and overall well-being are endless, and we are so excited to see the joy and excitement that the new playground will bring to our students. Thank you to the Fairland East Playground committee and to our generous community for their efforts in making this project a reality. It’s a great day to be a Dragon!” said Roni Hayes, Fairland superintendent in a press release.

The playground, which also includes green space for free play, outdoor classroom activities, and potentially adding additional equipment, will be open for community use during daylight hours when school is out.

Bosley Rental & Supply Inc. in Huntington donated lights for the evening ribbon cutting Thursday so that playtime could last longer.