The Journal Gazette
Thursday, October 21, 2021 1:00 am

State backs Forest Park playground

Students ramp up fundraising for all-inclusive project

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Forest Park Elementary School students will take a break from their studies today for a Lakeside Park stroll that's focused on play.

The fifth graders are scheduled at 8:50 a.m. to kick off a daylong walk-a-thon fundraiser for new playground equipment.

Specifically, the school wants to replace aging and inaccessible equipment with an inclusive playground that allows all students to play together. The total budget is $113,000, according to the project's crowdfunding page through

Lt. Gov Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority announced their support Tuesday. If the crowdfunding campaign reaches its $30,000 goal by Nov. 23, the playground project will receive a matching grant through the agency's CreatINg Places program, according to a news release.

Crouch described the plans as innovative.

“This playground project is a great example of a community seeing a need and finding a solution,” she said in a statement.

Leitia McHugh, vice president of the Forest Park PTA, said the existing playground needs love.

“The current structure is small, old and inaccessible to many children in our community,” McHugh said in a statement. “The Forest Park Elementary Inclusive Playground Project is a chance for our neighbors to come together behind the vision of giving all children access to vibrant play opportunities.”

The PTA is leading the project, the release said. According to the crowdfunding site, the organization has added $2,000 to a designated playground fund for each of the past five years.

“At this rate,” the site states, “it will take us around 40 more years to fund this project without the help of our community.”

Students' fundraising efforts have included door-to-door solicitations.

The school shared on Facebook on Tuesday that the 600-plus student body had already raised $7,000, surpassing their $6,000 walk-a-thon goal.

Other funding sources include the Fort Wayne Community Schools facilities department, according to the crowdfunding site.

“As we make our space better and more inclusive,” the site says, “our playground will continue to be open to all outside of school hours in the same way it has always been. We look forward to hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony for all our neighbors when the project is completed in Spring 2022.”

To donate

To make a contribution online, search for the Forest Park Inclusive Playground project at Checks can be made payable to “Forest Park PTA” with the memo “Playground Project.” Mail checks to Forest Park Elementary, ATTN: PTA, 2004 Alabama Ave., Fort Wayne, IN 46805.

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