Helena Elementary School receives grant for playground

Published 11:24 am Thursday, March 2, 2023

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By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer

HELENA – Members of Helena Elementary School will be able to enjoy a new playground area as a $61,563 grant from the Shelby County Commission was shared with the school on Monday, Feb. 27.

“This grant is going to help us build a multi-purpose play area for our school,” President of Parent Teacher Association Heather Leon said. “It’s going to be easy access and safe for all of our students.”

Leon said in the spring of 2022, Allison Festavan, a special education teacher at Helena Elementary School, informed her of an idea to use an open courtyard area at school and turn it into a safe and contained multipurpose play and learning area. They then met with Shelby County Services Facilities Coordinator Barbara Snyder and Shelby County Services Facilities Supervisor Shane Miskelley.

“We have had a great reaction,” Leon said about how students are responding to the idea of the new area. “We used it as our theme for our fundraiser in the fall and showed pictures of what the area could look like.”

Fun Run fundraiser was held in the fall and more than half the money needed to fund the project was raised.

“Our Helena Elementary School parents and community helped us raise over our goal of $60,000,” Leon said. “We have the most supportive parents and families at HES.  As soon as we introduced the idea of the new multipurpose area, our parents and students were on board to make it happen.  We started off with a realistic approach of saying this may take a couple of years to be completed, in case we didn’t receive the grant but, since news of receiving the grant and knowing this project will be complete this year, it has been nothing but excitement and encouragement.”

The new multipurpose play area will be a gated safe space. It will consist of a rubber surface covered by shades.  Inlayed into the rubber surface, there will be a tricycle track around the perimeter, hopscotch and four square. The school will also be making repairs to the current playground equipment and sandblasting and painting playground equipment. Additionally, a commercial-grade rubber pathway will be placed in the current playground so that wheelchair bound students can more easily navigate the playground.