Jon Pompia, The Pueblo Chieftain
Thanks to a grassroots fundraising effort, Minnequa Elementary School students no longer have to "play in rocks and in the dusty old field."
On Monday, a year-long drive to erect $34,000 in new playground equipment at the Bessemer school culminated with a high-spirited pep rally and, naturally, a few equally joyous, and high-pitched, go-rounds on the shiny new climbing and sliding apparatuses.
"We know that play is vital to human development," said Principal Melissa Patterson before the student body, faculty and guests assembled in the school gymnasium. "It teaches social skills, provides physical activity and provides for a positive release of energy."
Formerly home to dilapidated and unsafe equipment surrounded by dirt and rocks, the new space hosts a play house, slide, monkey bars and giant-sized jacks ideal for youthful cavorting -- all painted blue and yellow and surrounded by a soft bed of wood chips to cushion those occasional falls.
The successful result of a student-led fundraising effort -- boxes and boxes of chocolate bars sold -- coupled with generous donations from a cadre of private and business sponsors, including the El Pomar Foundation.
"Thank you for helping us celebrate this valuable new playground, because if we didn't have playtime to help us learn, our teacher would have to deal with talking and squirming scholars throughout the day," said second-grader Kyla Pewitt to the day's guests and fellow students.
"If it wasn't for you, we would have to play in rocks and dusty old field. The playground will only make our school better and help us reach our goals set around innovation."
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