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Volunteers hope to improve #039;child#039;s play#039;

McKenzie children will soon be getting a new playground thanks to a committee of volunteers. The committee comprised of Shay Vickery, Amanda Padgett, Melissa Scott, Patty Presley, Jennifer Lee, Carol Williams and Kristy Brown.

"We learned early on that there was no money available from the Board of Education for new equipment, so we knew it had to become a community effort," said Vickery.

The group formed and made a presentation to the Parent-Teacher-Association at their September meeting. The motion was made seconded and passed, but the question of financial backing was yet to be answered.

"The cost of playground equipment is enormous," said Vickery. "There are specific codes that have to be met and the commercial market for playground equipment knows this. We have to buy commercial quality equipment if we want it to last. I believe in buying quality more than quantity and we wanted something that will be there for a long time. The facts are that playground equipment is expensive and although we are a resourceful community, we've had to reach out for help funding."

That help came in the form of two grants. Wal-Mart, for $1000 and a $1500 grant from the Butler County United Fund have given the drive a jumpstart. The committee has been involved in hosting fundraisers such as the Harvest Festival, Coke Sales, Little Miss McKenzie High School and plans to host a Valentine's Dance and a Spring Fling.

Vickery, who wrote and was approved for the two grants, is also planning to write more.

"I am planning to write for another Wal Mart grant after February," said Vickery.

"I also am looking into a Lowes Home Improvement Foundation grant. I continue to search for any grant available for the school."

Vickery and her committee have also planned to band together once more and sponsor a "building day" and will be looking for community volunteers to help with the construction.

"I know this will be a fun day for all. There is no end to what the parents and citizens of McKenzie can do when they are put to the test," said Vickery.

"I encourage all parents, grandparents and residents of McKenzie to get involved in the playground improvements and all projects at the school."

"This is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our children and grandchildren. After all, the future of this community and we must do all that we can to ensure that they have the best education experience possible."

Vickery urges anyone who can to bring their children to McKenzie School.

"It is a wonderful school that provides all of the education benefits of a larger school with all the of the comforts of a small school. "

"We have a fantastic group of parents and teachers and I comment each one for their efforts to make Mckenzie School great."

The committee also has plans of adding a second phase of improvements once the playground is constructed, that include a GeoDome climber, an Octagon Deck with a spiral slide and four other climbers. There is also the possibility of adding a basketball goall area.

"We are trying to provide equipment that will provide free play activities as well as structured physical fitness activities for the older elementary students. The equipment is from PlayMart Playgrounds in Kentucky," said Vickery.

"It is made of 100% recycled structural plastic lumber. It includes two decks, five slides, three climbers and a clatter bridge."

"We are also replacing the swings and chains and providing approved safety surfacing underneath all equipment to

meet standards.

The entire play area will be fenced in for the protection of the children as well as to prevent vandalism."

But, the committee is still short of their financial goal and is willing to take donations.

"We have contacted numerous local and county businesses asking for contributions," said Vickery.

"We have had a wonderful, generous response from most of the business that we have contacted. But there are only seven of us and we just can't make contact with everyone."

"We are asking any one that would like to make a contribution to the playground project to contact on of the committee members or contact the school directly."

Anyone who

would like to make a donation should call one of the committee members or the school at 334-374-2711 or they can mail checks made payable to McKenzie PTA Playground Project.:

1296 Patrick Road

McKenzie, AL 36456