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July 17, 2004

New playground in works at school for deaf

From: Kansas City Star, MO - Jul 17, 2004

The Kansas City Star

With the help of volunteers, the Kansas School for the Deaf will swing into the school year with a new playground on its campus.

Students, parents and staff of the school have met to brainstorm ideas for their dream playground.

When the final design is selected, volunteers from the school and Sprint will join forces to build it Aug. 28, using materials bought with money from Sprint and the school.

"Kids drew pictures of what they want on the playground," said Carol Busch, the school's early childhood team leader. "As a group, which was about 30 kids, parents, staff and Sprint people, we had large pictures of slides, climbing equipment. A whole variety of swings, slides, different ideas."

Anne Heller's two children who attend the school for the deaf had a part in planning the new playground, which will be designed especially for children 2 to 5 years old.

Heller says the existing playground is an eyesore.

"It is old, and it is time to get a new one," said Heller who serves as president of the Parent Staff Organization at KSD. "In my heart, I know the children will be very happy with a new playground."

The new playground will be a definite upgrade, Busch said. Currently, the site of the new playground is home to a single slide.

The school for the deaf is one of three schools in Kansas selected to receive a free playground this year. The playgrounds and volunteer work is made possible through KaBOOM!, a nonprofit organization that arranges playground projects across the country every year.

The other two schools in Kansas receiving playgrounds are Kiddie Kollege in Kansas City, Kan., and Scuola Vita Nuova Charter School in Kansas City. Sprint is the sponsoring corporation for all three Kansas projects.

Sprint spokeswoman Jennifer Bosshardt said Sprint plans to contribute more than $50,000 to each playground. The playground projects support Sprint's announcement earlier this year to renew its commitment to the Kansas City area, including building youth leadership and social skills, and supporting student achievement and family engagement in youth education.

The school for the deaf will contribute $8,000 for the playground.

"We will provide food and snacks and about 50 to 75 volunteers," Busch said. "Sprint will bring around 200 volunteers."

In addition to building the playground, volunteers will work to beautify the area, establish picnic tables and benches and make landscaping improvements.

KaBOOM! spokeswoman Sarah Pinsky said the organization has created more than 600 new playgrounds and improved more than 1,300 others since 1995. This year, more than 150 projects are taking place in the United States and Canada.

She said the process always starts with the children drawing their vision of the ideal playground.

"We see everything, from pools filled with M&Ms to skydiving," she said.

They are asked to think about the playground rules as well as other items important to playgrounds, such as trashcans, flowers and trees.

"Kids are the play experts," Pinsky said. "After they draw and give feedback, we work with adults that make up the planning team, in this case the school for the deaf and Sprint. The planning process takes a couple of months."

The school for the deaf is now in the process of selecting its top three designs for submission back to KaBOOM!

To reach Noemi Herrera, Olathe education reporter, call (816) 234-7729 or send e-mail to

© 2004 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.