New playground set for Flood Brook School. Londonderry

LONDONDERRY - Flood Brook Union School will soon look a little different.

In May, a new playground will be installed by the community on a building day. It won't, however, just be for the kids. Rosalind Klezos, a part of the fundraising group, said the process to start building a new playground started year before last under the guidance of Karol Allen.

"She started gathering information from the kids as to what they would like to see on the playground," Klezos said. "She sent around a survey to parents to see what they wanted the [old] playground was getting really sad."

After hearing from community members and school children, a committee of about eight parents formed to try and make the new playground a reality. The group has bought about $200,000 worth of equipment for the new playground from a company called Utiliplay, she said.

For many years, there was a rule that swings weren't allowed at Flood Brook, something Klezos said the committee decided this was a rule to break. Along with swings, new slides and other traditional playground features, the group also has already put adult workout stations in place. With the workout stations, there is also a quarter mile track.

"This is about making a community playground, not just a school playground," she said. Neil McIntyre, principal at Flood Brook, said Flood Brook is a public school and the area should be enjoyed by the whole community.

"By encouraging more people to used the school property, it will lead to the betterment of the community," he said.

Inclusion of the whole community was important when updating this area of the school, she said. Klezos said the playground will have features for the older children to enjoy, as well as wheel chair accessibility and features that children with special needs can also enjoy.

"This is one of the few playgrounds that's all inclusive," she said. "For older kids, kids with special needs or sensory disorders. They're also at a risk for childhood obesity. We don't want that to happen, we want to make sure there will be pieces on this playground for them."

The idea of inclusion has made the playground more expensive. To help kick start the fundraising, Barry and Wendy Rowland made a $105,000 challenge gift, Klezos said. The children also raised money at school with their Change for Play fundraiser. They brought in change and each classroom even had a sponsor to match up to a certain amount brought in, she said.

"It's just been so amazing," she said. "We are pretty close to being done paying for the equipment."

Now the group needs to find volunteers to help build the playground in May and the help with some excavation projects to get the area ready.

"The company recommended one person for every $1,000 of equipment," Klezos said. "But if we can get 100 volunteers, I think we'll be OK."

This playground - and the community that has helped fund the project and will ultimately build it - is helping with a resurgence at Flood Brook Union School, she said. While many schools in Vermont are seeing enrollment drop, Flood Brook actually has more students.

"We are different from other pats of Vermont, there are people choosing to move here," she said.

For more information about the playground and to see a conceptual design, visit the school's website or call 802-824-6811.

CLARIFICATION: In a previous version of the story, The Rowland Foundation was mentioned as the benefactors of the $105,000. The donation was a personal gift of Barry and Wendy Rowland.


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