October 9, 2008
Kimberly Replaces Playground
By Miranda C.R. White
REDLANDS - The designers of Kimberly Elementary School's new playground had only children's drawings of children, an old metal set of bars and swings and their imaginations, yet the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation made the children's dreams reality.
"It (the playground) was definitely 20-plus years old, if not 50," said Kimberly Elementary School Principal Marcia Fagan.
Lowe's dedicated Kimberly Elementary School's new playground with with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 8. Redlands Mayor Jon Harrison, Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, and representatives from the Redlands Unified School District were among those at the ceremony.
Harrison said the project showed how much people in the city care about the students of Redlands, whether it's the people of Lowe's, parents or the principal.
"It's not a place just to have fun, but a place to be healthy," Harrison said. "You need to pay them back by exercising on this playground and eating healthy. Grow your bodies and minds in a healthy way."
Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation supported the playground build and garden renovations, including a mosaic tile project, with a $95,000 grant. Additional funding included $7,000 from parent donors and another $3,000 from the Parent Teacher Association.
The playground was designed with special-needs children in mind. Features included a whirlwind seat, a giant spring pod, a rock wall with fossil imprints, talk tubes, a hand cycler, shaded seats, a bucket basketball hoop and a zero-gravity swing.
Scott Maynard of The Time Game helped with the design and coordination of the project.
County Superintendent of Schools Gary Thomas said the special education children were a huge part of the development and plan for the project.
"Great things happen in Redlands," Thomas said. "The dedication of this new playground is a perfect example of that. We appreciate the need that special education students have."
Rep. Jerry Lewis said it was a privilege for him to be there.
"Mara Winick (a parent volunteer) is responsible for most of this," Lewis said. "Good parents, good teachers and a good principal make this work."
For the opening ceremony, Bob Knight of Farm to School, a program that provides local produce to schools, donated freshly picked apples.
Knight also donated oranges from his Old Grove Orange farm for the volunteers on the build day to thank the Redlands Unified School District for buying local oranges and apples for their schools.
Children from all grades made rainbow paper chains to string across the playground and cut for the ceremony. The children wrote messages of thanks on each link and will send the chain to Lowe's.
Also, yellow buckets full of wood chips for each class were dumped to dedicate the playground.
Fagan thanked Vince Christakos, the school district's assistant superintendent of business services, for approving the spending for the project.
"I'm so very grateful," Fagan said.
"Lowe's generosity exemplifies their dedication to community improvement," Fagan said. "These funds helped us build something that goes beyond the traditional playground containing just slides and swings. By creating a play area that will give local students a fun, creative place where they can develop their overall fitness and coordination, we can unleash their imaginations."
Lara Hipps, the human resources manager of the Lowe's store in Redlands, appreciated that the children showed what they felt they needed.
"You guys drew pictures of the kind of playground you wanted," Hipps said.
Hipps said her boss Jim Riley allowed them to start and complete the project.
Lowe's District Manager Scott Kidd said he really appreciated the drawings.
"Lowe's volunteers built this playground, providing them a place to blow off steam and stay fit," Kidd said.
Tracy Topoleski's fifth-grade class was drawn to be the first to use the playground, and the children were thrilled.
E-mail Staff Writer Miranda C.R. White at [email protected]
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