Gulfstream Elementary awaits a remarkable new playground

The students of Gulfstream Elementary soon will get a much-needed and longawaited new playground that is remarkable in both its design and the fact that it will be brought in and set up in just one day’s time.

More than 200 volunteers from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the Cutler Bay community will join forces on Saturday, June 12, to build a new, safe playground at the school, using a design based on drawings created by children who participated in a Design Day event in April.

Gulfstream Elementary’s 600 students have had to make do with outdated equipment to play on, but that will soon be removed to make room for the new playground that will provide them with a safer place to play.

“We’re looking forward to the build day on June 12, when we will have volunteers here to help build our playground, thanks to the generosity of the Knight Foundation and KaBOOM!,” said Gulfstream principal Susan Lyle. “We want to make sure our children’s needs are met. They’re the ones who designed this playground and we tried to have one that met as many of their requirements as possible.”

The playground is one of 14 to be built by KaBOOM! and the Knight Foundation this year, and one of more than 150 KaBOOM! will lead across the country in 2010 with the goal of providing a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

In addition to the community-built playground, the new play area also will include an “Imagination Playground in a Box,” a breakthrough playspace concept designed by architect David Rockwell to encourage child-directed, unstructured free play. Complete with custom designed blue foam blocks and other loose parts, and elements that encourage sand and water play, Imagination Playground in a Box allows children to constantly reconfigure their environment and design their own course of play.

The “build-in” begins at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 12, with a kickoff ceremony and volunteer deployment. Construction takes place from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with volunteers assembling the brightly colored playground equipment. Around 2:30 to 3 p.m. will be the ribbon-cutting ceremony and unveiling of the revolutionary Imagination Playground in a Box.

“We think it’s going to be a very exciting event, with the community gathering to help us,” Lyle said. “This means a lot to us. We collected money and had a lot of fundraisers for the past three years, trying to get enough money to build the playground, so thanks to these two organizations we are finally able to do it. It’s amazing they can do it in one day.

“We would love to have volunteers contact the school at 305-235-6811 and come and help us build the playground.”

Gulfstream Elementary is a Title One school with a large Special Education population that services children with varying exceptionalities such as autism, deaf and hard of hearing, as well as physically and intellectually disabled children. The goal is to provide a fully accessible and sensoryrich playground for children of all abilities while providing a place where compassion and acceptance flourish.

For more information, visit online at < http://gulfstreamelm.dadeschools.net >. To learn about the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation visit < www.knightfoundation.org >.

KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC, dedicated to saving play. For more information, visit < www.kaboom.org >.

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