Helena Elementary School debuts new multipurpose play area

Published 5:22 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

HELENA – The staff and PTO of Helena Elementary School were proud to debut their newly completed multipurpose play area in a public post on Sunday, Sept. 10.

The area, which serves as a redevelopment of a previously unused area of the school’s property, is the culmination of multiple months of work and one that will serve all students of HES.

“We had a need, specifically for our special needs students, to have an area to go to that was safe and inclusive for them, as well as being able to access the playground that has equipment for them,” said Heather Leon, PTO president at Helena Elementary School. “One of our special education teachers had always seen an unused piece of property at our school and thought that it would be a perfect location, as it is very close to their classrooms.”

The area is intended to serve as an area for outdoor learning, safe play and a host of other activities for the students.

Funding for the new area was secured through the work of the PTO’s application for the Parks and Recreation Grant offered by the Shelby County Commission.

“We were awarded the grant, so they funded half of the project and then we had to provide (the remainder of) the funding through PTO and donations from our school families,” Leon said.

Prior to the application’s acceptance, staff and PTO members had already begun the process of preparing the area for the construction, but full construction was not able to begin until this past April.

“We just finished it up at the end of last week,” Leon said. “It has turned out to be everything that we wanted it to be. It’s very safe, very comfortable, the kids have already started using it and they are so excited. The teachers are really excited about it and the parents are also excited about it because it is an instant gratification to see what their donations have gone toward, it’s very fulfilling.”

This multi-purpose play area is the first of its kind to be constructed at HES, but its success and clear usability is already inspiring a desire for potential future developments that might be possible on the current property.

In a public release, that comes in advance of the school’s annual Boosterthon Fun Run fundraiser, the school’s PTO also asks that parents and the community, “remember this new play area, and think about how far donations can go.”