MINETTO – Minetto Elementary School’s ongoing inclusive playground project recently received 7.5 percent of the needed $100,000 funding for Phase 1 from community partner, Exelon Generation.
The gift was awarded to the Minetto Elementary Home and School Association, as one of the beneficiaries from Exelon’s charity golf tournament.
Rebuilding the 25-year-old structure has been a daunting task for HSA volunteers, as the group has had to break the new playground into stages after the original playground no longer met the New York State Department of Health Playground Safety Standard and was removed in the summer.
The now inadequate playground does not fully meet the needs of all students and the Minetto community, but the HSA’s project seeks to change that.
“We are so thankful for Exelon’s support and grateful for the families, businesses and organizations that are helping to make our playground dream a reality,” said Dana Geraci, HSA representative.
The donation goes far beyond monetary assistance, Geraci said, as the HSA will work through the multi-phase process in order to “provide fun opportunities for intergenerational play, create community engagement and encourage children to gain confidence and social skills while promoting a healthy lifestyle.”
She said it will also afford children develop relationships outside of the classroom in a more relaxed and playful atmosphere regardless of abilities.
With the help of the Minetto community, the main playground structure was built in 1994 and included a large wheelchair accessible playground with ramping from one end of the playground to the other.
In 2018, five new inclusive pieces were added, including Wobble Spheres, Revolutions Spinner, a Reflex and a Jax Web Climber, but the playground still lacks the appropriate ground surface to make those structures wheelchair accessible.
The design of the new, all-inclusive playground comes with assistance from Parkitects in Lansing, NY, and will provide accessible play structures, ground surfacing and sensory walls.
The project will be complete in three phases, with Phase 1 being the most expensive at $100,000.
A total $35,000 has been raised thus far.
In a letter addressed to the HSA from Peter M. Orphanos, vice president of Nine Mile Point, Orphanos said it is the Exelon Generation team that thanks the Minetto Elementary family for continuing to be “tremendously supportive of our company and nuclear technology.”
The letter went on to mention the company is committed to giving back and will continue to be an engaging partner.
Minetto Elementary Principal Jennifer Sullivan said the major goal of the playground project is to “accommodate and enhance the physical, mental and emotional growth of all children by creating a play environment inclusive to all children and all ages in the Oswego County community.”
The school is the primary school for inclusion in the Oswego City School District, and Sullivan said its staff members continue to work to develop a sense of belonging and acceptance for students to become fully prepared and life ready.