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Lil’ Cats Playscape constructed Saturday
by Jack Gaskins
Mar 10, 2012 | 1656 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kenda Nelson photo
Saturday morning, the community showed up in force to assemble new playground equipment at Refugio Elementary School. The new playground, made possible by a grant and donations, is dubbed Lil’ Cats Playscape. By Monday morning, the playground was ready for a ‘paper chain’ cutting. For the story and more pictures
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REFUGIO – Last Saturday, March 3, more than 100 volunteers showed up at the Refugio Elementary to construct the “Lil’ Cats Playscape.”

Construction teams organized and directed by friend of the school – Gerald Morgan – began by sorting through hundreds of parts and bolts and clamps and system components.

Teams of volunteers mixed cement, pushed wheelbarrows, installed bolts, operated air tools, manned shovels and rakes, and carefully erected the steel and plastic structure one piece at a time throughout the day.

Another crew of generous volunteers kept the construction workers well-fed and hydrated. Coordinating the food and water efforts was another friend of the school – Debbie Sternadel.

Debbie was instrumental in soliciting donations for food and drinks and made certain all donations arrived on time and covered many behind-the-scene details.

To list all the fine people and companies that either donated their time or resources would be too daunting a task that risks someone’s name being inadvertently omitted.

Refugians stepped up and offered their time, talents, financial support and labor to make this new playground a dream come true for our children. Teachers, parents, students, RISD Board members, community leaders, business owners and other friends of the Elementary School all helped make the new playground a reality.

On behalf of the entire RISD family, I thank each of you.

How it all began

In May, 2011, Lisa Herring, director of elementary and secondary education at RISD, asked me about applying for a grant to build a new playground for the school.

Considering the age and state of some of the playground pieces on site, we both knew the grant would be a great benefit to the children of Refugio. Lisa went to work gathering input and opinions from the elementary staff, playground equipment manufacturers, and construction experts.

The students described what they wanted to see in their new playground and created illustrations. Advice and expert insight were gathered, along with the descriptions and illustrations from the children for the grant application.

In June 2011, RISD received the news that it had been awarded one of the few grants dispersed nationwide out of hundreds of applications submitted!

We named the project the “Lil’ Cats Playscape” and the work to raise matching funds began.

The $15,000 grant award was 48 percent of the total needed. The team had only a few months to raise the remaining funds and make the dream of the playground a reality.

Lisa Herring and her fellow elementary educators worked on the playground’s design and developed plans to secure the matching funds required by the grant.

Civic groups, local businesses, corporations and individuals stepped up to the challenge.

The children of Refugio Elementary School held a “Pennies for Our Playground” contest.

Every class competed to see which one could gather the greatest amount of coins.

Through the generous financial support of many of those solicited, the challenge to raise the remaining funds was answered and the children’s dreams of a new playscape became a reality.

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