Liverpool Kieran Williamson runs the risk of filling his hands with splinters every time he plays on his school playground at Longbranch Elementary.
“The school has been talking about the need for a new playground since Kieran was in kindergarten,” said Carolyn Willamson, Kieran’s mother. She also has a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old who attend LBE. “He is now in fourth grade, and we still do not have the funds.”
The existing structure is not only an injury risk, but it doesn’t offer much to the students.
“The children are tired of getting splinters from using the playground,” Williamson said. “And the children admit some of the pieces of the playground just don’t make sense. The kids often choose not to use the playground as a result.”
In order to provide a better play experience for their kids, the LBE community has rallied together to raise money to replace the 20-year-old wooden structure.
“It is very difficult to find replacement parts when things break,” Williamson said. “There are not a lot of different things for students to do on the structures, and not a lot of opportunities for good exercise and fun. We felt it was time to build something new.”
Unfortunately, doing so won’t be cheap. Williamson said the cost to replacing the playground, including the basketball court and the swings, will be as much as $150,000, which the district itself cannot pay.
“The cost of a playground is overwhelming and can be discouraging,” Williamson said. “Until I attended a Playground Committee meeting, I had no idea how expensive playgrounds are. A properly sized structure for recess time costs as much as a house.”
But the LBE community remains undaunted and determined to raise the money. They’ve held a series of fundraisers, including LBE Playground Nights at UNO on Route 31 and an auction, and future fundraisers are planned at Chuckelberries on Route 57 and a miniature golf course. But the biggest event by far will be the LBE Walk-A-Thon, scheduled for May 30.