Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Youngsters Overjoyed with New Playground Equipment

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Youngsters Overjoyed with New Playground Equipment

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

They scarfed down their cupcakes topped with vanilla-swirled frosting because - delectable as they were - a more enticing treat awaited them.

The students probably set an Olympic record as they rushed to play on a vivid playscape complete with slides, monkey bars, conical rock climbing wall and other climbing equipment.

Their new courtyard playground, which was dedicated Tuesday, was highly anticipated and badly needed, said officials at Michele Block Gan Yeladim (Hebrew for "Garden of Children") Preschool. The preschool is part of the Jewish Community Alliance at 8505 San Jose Blvd.

"I like the slide," said 3-year-old Zane Wolchok.

"I like the climbing walls," said Sarah Tarbox, 4.

Then they scooted away, eager to get back in line for some more fun.

The new playground is a group effort with parents raising part of the money and David Stein, honorary chairman of the JCA board of directors, and his wife, Linda, matching that amount, said Theresa Levy, director of early childhood education.

Cal Barker, JCA facilities director, put together a step-by-step plan that saved the project thousands of dollars, Levy said.

"The project was really hard work," she said, adding that Barker had to jackhammer through and remove 8-inch concrete slabs before sand, mulch and sod could be added. Parents, teachers, teens and department directors were involved in the effort.

Moving the sand, which was unloaded in the parking lot, was a feat in itself because it involved 23 cubic yards, she said. Parents who turned out for workdays had to make almost 100 wheelbarrow trips to cart it to the playground area, as well as tackle other tasks.

Before, the courtyard playground was a hodgepodge with an old wooden deck, Levy said.

The new playground is unique, she said, because it has two separate but adjoining areas for older and younger kids. They are separated by panels that younger children can paint on. Other amenities at their play site are a music area, toddler-size garden, gross motor area for riding toys, a smaller playscape and a giant sand area where several youngsters were playing with toy animals. …

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