After five years of planning and hundreds of hours in which volunteers constructed and installed the playground at Henry Puffer School, the structure was unveiled at a ribbon cutting Aug. 31.
The playground is the third play structure in District 58 that is inclusive, meaning that it meets ADA requirements so that children with various disabilities can use the equipment. District 58 schools Hillcrest and Lester have accessible playgrounds. Lester unveiled its new playground in July.
The committee of parents and staff, called Everybody Plays at Puffer (EPAP), began five years ago with a vision and determination to raise funds to replace the 30-year-old playground. The old wooden playground was originally built by parent and staff volunteers so the committee wanted to replicate that unique community build experience.
“It was important to follow in this tradition and have our community install the playground,” said Lauren Singdahlsen who served as co-president of EPAP with Michelle Morgan.
The team of Puffer parents dug the holes, set the concrete and assembled the equipment. Also helping were key staff, like former principal Todd McDaniel and Jackelyn Cadard, District 58 preschool coordinator.
“This was a dream that started with a small group of teachers and parents, countless hours in planning, fundraising and designing the build,” said Cadard, who was a member of EPAP. “Our community stepped up.” In addition to housing 400 students, Henry Puffer is one of two locations for District 58’s Grove Children’s Preschool.
“The leadership and dream of the entire Puffer community brought this vision to light,” said District 58 Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell.
The committee, chaired by Co-Presidents Michelle Morgan and Lauren Singdahlsen, raised funds through push-up challenges, a golf outing and the sale of legacy bricks, among others. Timken Foundation, Puffer Hefty PTA and McLean Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network were key in their financial support.
The committee included parent Todd Mazza, who is a play space build consultant, and 20 volunteers who spent an estimated 70 hours constructing the playground. “Henry Puffer School is a special place with people who care deeply about our school and the community in which our children are raised,” said Singdahlsen.
In attendance at the ribbon-cutting event were Diane and Scott Peterson, who coordinated the playground construction 30 years ago. Diane currently is a secretary at the school.
“The playground represents the passion of the community as it took everyone to make it happen,” said Principal Britta Waszak.