Playground built in less than a day at Liberty Arts Academy
June 6, 2019
By Brianna Moore
The students at Liberty Arts Academy, along with their families, are now able to enjoy a new playground that was built by over 100 volunteers on May 18.
In the span of just a few hours, students, their parents and a number of volunteers from Foresters Financial, the national organization KaBOOM!, and the community gathered to assemble a new playground structure for the elementary school.
“We had so many people that showed up on build day who had no involvement with the school,” explained Dani Wilson, music teacher at Liberty Arts Academy. “It was a real demonstration of the good in the world. Especially for Arizona kids, it meant a lot to see so many people that are willing to turn up for Arizona teachers and students.”
In March, Liberty Arts Academy Principal Brady Wald applied for a grant from the organization KaBOOM! to have a custom playground structure built on campus for the students and the community.
KaBOOM! is a nonprofit organization that prioritizes giving children access to safe and active play that they need for happy, healthy childhoods. Through its partnership with Foresters Financial, KaBOOM! provided Liberty Arts Academy with the tools and materials needed to build the playground from scratch, including mulch, rakes, concrete and wheelbarrows.
Foresters Financial is a fraternal benefits society that seeks to provide financial services to members, as well as uplift those members by giving back to their communities.
The new playground on campus was built to embody the core values of the elementary school as it includes a garden box, dog agility course, and a new playground structure which has a double-slide and bridge.
Liberty Arts Academy follows the Finland Educational Model, which includes teaching strategies, referred to as “whole child strategies,” that emphasize play and family time in the learning curriculum. These strategies include a “no-homework policy,” spending time with family after school, as well as movement and play throughout the school day.
Liberty Arts Academy also includes animal therapy in its curriculum through the Gabriel’s Angels Animals, Books and Children (ABC) program. The animal-assisted reading program is meant to provide at-risk children with safe-learning spaces so they can feel confident and comfortable learning.
In March, officials from Foresters Financial and KaBOOM! visited Liberty Arts Academy and let students decide how they wanted their playground to look. Students sketched their ideal playground and presented it to their peers, as well as representatives from Foresters Financial and KaBOOM!
KaBOOM! then presented the children with three possible blueprints for the playground. Each of the three designs incorporated the kids’ desires. The kids’ suggestions like a swimming pool and zip-lines were not included. As a group, the Liberty Arts Academy students decided on which blueprint they preferred.
Wilson played an integral role in bringing the playground to the school. In charge of obtaining vendors, she reached out to the Johnjay & Rich #LoveUp Foundation for assistance.
The #LoveUp Foundation, established in 2014, began as a movement based on spreading love and kindness. Focusing on children in foster care, the foundation’s goal is to make a positive impact on the community, no matter how big or small.
“We had over 16 vendors that donated materials,” Wilson said. “Every single vendor we had at build day came to us through the JohnJay & Rich #LoveUp Foundation.”
The Johnjay & Rich #LoveUp Foundation assisted Wilson by providing supplies, receiving donations of sunscreen and first-aid kits and finding volunteers to build the playground.
Students tested the playground the following Tuesday, May 21.