WOONSOCKET – The Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) and national non-profit KaBOOM! have awarded the Bernon Heights Elementary School PTO, in partnership with the Woonsocket Education Department (WED), a $15,000 Let’s Play Community Construction Grant to build a playground.
The grant is part of Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families active nationwide. In 2011, as part of Let’s Play, Dr Pepper Snapple Group made a $15 million, three-year commitment to KaBOOM!, the national non-profit dedicated to promoting safe playground development.
“For several years, the Bernon Heights PTO has been working hard to raise the funds needed to build a playground,” said Amy Thibault, PTO member and Playground Committee Chair. “This much-needed grant has given us the remaining funding needed to break ground on a new playspace for the school’s students.”
Bernon Heights’ playground initiative began several years ago, when a student approached the PTO and asked the group to build a playground for the school’s children. Since then, the PTO has held numerous fundraisers to raise money for the project, including the creation of the annual Bernon Heights PTO Spookfest, a Halloween-themed festival that features a Spooky Trail, arts and crafts and other kid-friendly activities.
Last summer, the PTO hired students from RiverzEdge Arts Project to create a “painted” playground on the blacktop outside the school. Building an actual playground adjacent to the school is the next step in this multi-year effort.
With the Let’s Play Community Construction Grant, the PTO is now able to fast-track the construction of a playground and is beginning the planning process. Work will continue throughout the summer, with a community “playground build” scheduled for the fall. Anyone interested in making a monetary donation to the project or participating in the playground build can visit the Bernon Heights playground page at www.OurDreamPlayground.org  or contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
“We are happy to be working with both the Woonsocket Education Department and the City of Woonsocket on this exciting project,” added Thibault. “When completed, this playground will encourage physical activity and creativity, and provide Bernon’s students with a safe and engaging place to play.”
Schools Supt. Giovanna Donoyan was “thrilled” by news of the grant.
“The Bernon PTO has led the charge to provide a fabulous opportunity for our students,” said Donoyan. “The children will now have a beautiful playground to enjoy and add to their physical activity. This is an all around healthy opportunity!"