City donates $45K to help Kiwanis build playground for Middletown elementary school

The Kiwanis Club of Middletown is raising money to build an ADA-approved playground at Amanda Elementary School. The playground from Landscape Structures costs about $220,000. City Council received approved a $45,000 grant. SUBMITTED ART

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The Kiwanis Club of Middletown is raising money to build an ADA-approved playground at Amanda Elementary School. The playground from Landscape Structures costs about $220,000. City Council received approved a $45,000 grant. SUBMITTED ART

A Middletown service organization is raising money to build an ADA approved playground at a local school and that fundraising received a boost recently when City Council approved a $45,000 grant.

The Kiwanis Club of Middletown is generating funds to construct a $200,000 playground at Amanda Elementary where all the students are on the free and reduced lunch program.

City Manager Jim Palenick said the grant comes from the CARES Act that requires the funds assist low- to moderate-income residents. He said there are 407 students at Amanda and about 100 children living in surrounding neighborhoods. Of those, he said, 10 are children with autism and 10 are children with physical disabilities.

The playground from Landscape Structures is Americans with Disabilities Act approved so that will give all children an opportunity to use the equipment, the city manager said.

He “enthusiastically recommended” the grant, he told council. It was unanimously approved by council.

The school’s playground equipment is 15 years old and features four swings, said Henrietta Nye, co-chair of the project with the late Guy Stone.

Amanda Principal Beth Hendricks said the playground faces heavily-traveled Oxford State Road and the new playground will be constructed behind the school. She said a new playground will be “an awesome thing for our kids.”

Nye said there are no other playgrounds or parks available for this neighborhood and transportation to other playgrounds is not an option for most children. Elley’s Hope, a playground built for children with disabilities, is located near Berachah Church and Lefferson Park.

“No one deserves to feel left out,” Nye said. “An inclusive playground considers the needs of all children and incorporates play equipment that addresses those needs and promotes growth and joy.”

Nye said the committee has been completing grant applications since February to finance the playground. Besides the money from the city, the group has received funds from the Fondersmith Foundation through the Youth Council of the Middletown Community Foundation, the Middletown Kiwanis Club, and a State Farm Insurance grant.

To reduce the cost of the project, Kiwanis will be organizing a “Community Build” in July. The group is soliciting donations of landscape timbers and mulch. Anyone interested in helping with the build, donating supplies or making a contribution can contact Middletown Kiwanis at KiwanisMiddletownOH@gmail.com.

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