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Lake Dolloff Elementary needs a playground | Vote online for $25,000 Pepsi grant

Lake Dolloff Elementary students can no longer use this boarded-up slide and other playground equipment due to safety concerns. Citizens for Federal Way Schools is trying to win a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project to replace the equipment. - Greg Allmain, The Mirror
Lake Dolloff Elementary students can no longer use this boarded-up slide and other playground equipment due to safety concerns. Citizens for Federal Way Schools is trying to win a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project to replace the equipment.
— image credit: Greg Allmain, The Mirror

One of the privileges of childhood is the daily ritual of school recess. Each day, students look eagerly toward the clock, watching it slowly tick down until the bell rings and they can run outside and be free.

For students at Lake Dolloff Elementary, the joy of this daily rite has been lessened because of the dilapidated condition of the school’s playground equipment. Citizens for Federal Way Schools is attempting to mobilize Federal Way and secure a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project so the children at Lake Dolloff can once again have playground equipment.

The Pepsi Refresh Program is a grant project in which the winners are determined by online voting and texting. To receive the $25,000 grant, the Federal Way Kids At Play project needs to finish within the top 15 of all projects in May. Rick Leavitt, project manager for facility services in the school district, said the grant would go a long way in getting new playground equipment at Lake Dolloff.

“The playtoy is really old and over three-quarters of it is shut down,” he said. “To replace that play system would cost approximately $40,000 to $50,000. (Winning this) would give the kids a nice, healthy play structure.”

Lake Dolloff Principal Sarah Gill said the playground’s conditions are frustrating for herself and her students.

“It’s sad,” she said. “They have recess and we want them to be able to get out there and have some fresh air and run around. When you don’t have much for them to do out there ... they just stand around at recess.”

There have been efforts to use the school’s ASB fund for new playground equipment, Gill said, but those funds couldn’t be used because recess is considered part of the curriculum. Outside of that, Gill said looking to the school district for financial help isn’t much of an option because of budget cuts at the state level.

“We’re in dire straits and won’t be able to look to the district for any funds,” she said.

While there’s much to be done with attempting to buy playground equipment, Gill said the students get excited at just the thought of having something new in their schoolyard.

“You can just see their eyes light up when we talk about a possible new structure,” she said.

Giving the students a chance to receive new playground equipment is worth the few minutes it takes to visit the website or send that text message, said Audrey Germanis, the district’s construction information coordinator.

“They need a place to go play and get their energy out,” she said. “I’m really hoping the community can step forward.”

Germanis said there’s quite a few plans in place to spread the word about Lake Dolloff’s participation in the Pepsi Refresh Program. She said there are plans to send students home with bracelets to remind their families to vote, and notifications will be mailed to all schools in the district regarding the program. Along with this, Germanis hopes to spread the message through social networking sites such as Facebook.

One message that Leavitt, Germanis and Gill want to make sure Federal Way residents hear is a simple one: Just vote.

To vote for the grant, visit www.refresheverything.com/federal-way-kids-at-play or text 105972 to PEPSI (73774).

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