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Old-fashioned 'playground raising' in Redmond

By Femi Abebefe
Kandra Kent
Published On: Nov 08 2013 10:06:38 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 09 2013 09:18:15 PM CST

The parents of St. Thomas Academy gathered together Saturday morning to build a playground for the students.

REDMOND, Ore. -

The kids at St. Thomas Academy in Redmond haven't had a playground to play on during recess. Recently, a small group of helping hands has set out to change that -- and Saturday was a red-letter day for the project.

Parents and community volunteers of St. Thomas have decided to help build a playground for students to play on. The project to build the playground has been underway since the start of school, but early Saturday morning, the parents of the academy rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

One of the parents told us about what they hope the playground will do for the school.

“It’s amazing what you can do when you ask for help,” Rick Yozamp said. “Look at all the people around -- it's incredible. You put the word out and see how many people want to help in the community, and how many people in the community will use this facility when it's complete.”

Yozamp also says the parents plan to build a basketball court as an addition to the play structure. The playground is expected to be completed in the near future.

Like all kids,  students at St. Thomas Academy love running around during those precious recess minutes. But unlike most American students, they don't have a playground.

"We roll down the hills and stuff," 4-year-old prekindergarten student Gemma Shantie said Friday, pointing to the empty field where students have recess.

It's the second year without swings and slides -- and for three months, unfinished structures have sat patiently waiting for kids.

"We can't play on it right now because it's not all done," Shantie said.

"We can't afford it right now," Principal Crystal Mooney said.  "They play soccer and volleyball, but after a while, they want to do something else."

But 11-year-old student Selah Weigant got an idea from a book.

"In one of the books, it was an Amish family," Weigant said.  "And there was a house raising, and I thought of a playground-raising instead of a house-raising."

That led to Saturday's event, when about 20 dads and community members came together, finishing what was barely started.

For the kids, Monday can't come soon enough.

"I'll probably just do the slide first," said one student.

Weigant said she's ready for new playground activities.

"We only have so much time before it's back into the classroom," she explained. "And so I think that it's important that you spend that time really well, and it's fun to have a play structure."

Mooney said she loved the idea, but at first she wasn't sure if it would work.

After talking to other school and church administers, Mooney said everyone wanted to go for it -- and parents were eager to help.

She said a playground goes far beyond a jungle gym.

"Children need that exercise time to be able to learn," Mooney said.

It was a true playground raising: More than $4,000 for equipment was donated from the community, volunteers will lend their hands.

Weigant said she can't wait to see her classmates' faces.

"They're going to be really happy. They've all been talking about it for a long time," Weigant said.

Mooney said the school is still trying to raise money for a basketball court, merry-go-round and other playground equipment.

If you'd like to help out, you can contact the school at (541) 548-3785.

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