Komensky Elem launches a new, all-inclusive playground
June 12, 2017 is a day students and teachers at Komensky Elementary School in Berwyn won’t soon forget, the culmination of two years of hard work that began when 5th graders in Komensky’s Our American Voice program decided that their school needed a new playground, because their peers in the school’s Developmental Learning Program and those in wheelchairs couldn’t participate in the one they had.
The OAV group pulled in parents, sold bracelets, worked with local businesses and non-profit groups, and set up a GoFundMe page to raise $30,000. They then applied to a national non-profit, KaBOOM, which provides play opportunities for low-income children, for further support. KaBOOM found an outside donor, Forrester Financial, to chip in the remaining costs, and in April met with students, and then parents and community members to brainstorm the playground’s design. On June 12, Berwyn came strong to build the playground itself, which will also be available to the whole community as a sorely needed park, in a single afternoon.
In a world too often built on instant gratification, OAV students learned the rewards of persistence, of taking the long winding road, and walked in the footsteps of peers for whom all roads are long and winding, all of which will stand them in good stead as they face the challenges ahead of us as a nation. Mariana Nicasio, Komensky principal, said she couldn’t be prouder of the way the students and families came together to raise money to make this a reality. “This gives everyone a sense of ownership, by being a part of building something and making it real,” added assistant principal Maria Lopez. “We’re investing in something that will benefit all children. It gives the students pride in their school and pride in being a part of something bigger than themselves.”
Efrain DeLatore, 12, a rising 7th grader at Freedom Middle School, cleans one of the new pieces of equipment, while Fourth Ward alderman Bob Fejt smooths the ground before turf is unrolled.