Taylors community pulls together to help elementary school win $20,000 grant
When members of Taylors Elementary School's PTA reviewed the results of a parent survey this past year, they found that many families wanted the school's playground equipment to be upgraded.
"The majority of our playground equipment is 10 to 15 years old, with most pieces missing or broken, and one structure boarded up," said Adrienne R. Devine-Lutz, the incoming vice president for the Taylors Elementary PTA. "However, our financial resources are limited, as anywhere from 48-55 percent of our student population is eligible for reduced lunch, but we are not classified as a Title 1 school."
Sarah Williams, the school's PTA president, asked Devine-Lutz, who had grant writing experience, to apply the school for grants. She decided to aim high, believing the first award she applied for was "a shot in the dark."
It turns out, it wasn't.
Let’s Play, an initiative by Dr Pepper Snapple Group and national non-profit KaBOOM!, recently announced Taylors Elementary School was one of five national winners of the Upgrade Your Play video competition. The school will receive $20,000 to upgrade its playground equipment.
Rhonda R. Rhodes, the school's principal, said all credit should go to members of the PTA.
"We are so excited for our students and community," she said.
As part of the contest, community organizations submitted fun, creative videos demonstrating why play is important for kids and the need for a new community playground.
"The Taylors Elementary playground is the only public playground within a 15-mile radius and, therefore, utilized by both our students and families in our community after school hours," Devine-Lutz said.
She said Williams called upon PTA families to gather at the last minute to shoot the video. John and Anne Cureton of Cureton Photography are active PTA members at the school and offered to shoot and edit the video, she said. Over two evenings, students and their parents filmed, joined by "heroes" from the community such as Taylors Fire and Rescue (Engine 81) — volunteers who gave their time, talents, or money to help, she added.
Now, more community heroes are needed to help see the grant money put to use.
"Replacing a multitude of playground equipment is costly, and we will need many heroes to not only financially support us, but participate in the KaBOOM! community-build model where the community comes together to plan, fundraise, and build the playground," Devine-Lutz said.
Anyone interested in supporting the project can contact the school at 864-355-7477 or contact Devine-Lutz directly at 512-789-3627 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. The projected install date is spring 2019, but the school won't know for sure until the equipment is ordered and school schedules are finalized, she said..
Devine-Lutz said she's glad members of the PTA had faith enough to pull together for the video, giving special recognition to the Curetons.
"They took our vision and created an incredibly beautiful and heartfelt video to submit," she said.