Freedom Acres Freedom Makers is a group of teens working to build an inclusive playground for students with physical and other challenges at Freedom Acres School. Freedom Acres is a school which includes students with multiple impairments. The current playground at Freedom Acres is no longer safe for play. In conjunction with the ISD, we want to create a place where students, families, and community members can play and have fun together. We are looking for community supporters to help make this happen within the next three years.
The greatest budget need is the cost of playground equipment at $180,000. Obviously, this amount will need to come from a wide variety of sources. We would also like to use funds to support a Community Picnic which is part of our plan to raise awareness and generate community support. We hope to use this grant as part of the matching funds required by many of the larger donors including the Kaboom Playground Grant that we hope to apply for in 2015. We believe our project is unique because typically volunteers support causes that affect them on a personal level, however Freedom Makers chose this project based on a community need with indirect personal gains to members of our group.
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Principal of Freedom Acres School.
Learn more about Freedom Acres Freedom MakersThe Freedom Makers teens developed the early stages of their plan at the Michigan Youth Leadership Training Camp in 2014. The group approached the Freedom Acres Principal and the ISD Superintendent to request permission to continue working on the playground project. We drafted a letter to the Ionia County ISD Board of Directors gaining permission to start collecting funds in a dedicated account for the playground.
Our group meets on the first Tuesday of every month for 1.5 hours to discuss project needs, plan fundraisers, and prepare grants. We toured the playground area and classrooms to learn more about needed resources to encourage extended physical activities for students. Most of the current playground equipment is unsafe preventing outside exercise and play. We are researching various types of playground equipment and surfaces that will fit the needs of students in wheelchairs and those requiring special equipment. We learned that in years past playground equipment has been damaged by youth attending events at nearby ball fields. Youth and families were then excluded from the school playground. Freedom Makers plans to develop an awareness campaign that would include families in the building of the playground and encourage shared access to the playground.
We are developing a 3 year plan to build the new playground in stages costing $180,000. We hope to implement Stage 1 with a smaller piece of equipment in 2015. Stage 2 includes a larger play structure and resurfacing to make the playground safe and inclusive. Stage 2 will require the largest amount of support from the community through funds, volunteerism, and special events held at the playground. It is our goal to complete the project with Stage 3 including the assembly of the final equipment by June 2018.