By Kate Milewski
SUTTONS BAY — Parents of students in Suttons Bay and Leelanau Montessori decided to take concerns about their local playground into their own hands.
The Committee to Improve the Suttons Bay Elementary School Playground launched a campaign to win a grant and raise money to replace a facility that's fallen into disrepair.
"The existing playground is pretty outdated and a lot of the structures aren't up to today's standards," committee head Katie Cochran Duncan said. "It's got parts that are worn and it's not worth repairing because of the shape that it's in."
But replacing a playground takes money, and that's the group's focus.
They've entered a grant competition sponsored by Clorox called "Power a Bright Future," that will award one $50,000 grant and six $25,000 grants, three based on votes and three on merit.
Voting has been open in recent days and the committee is optimistic since there are only 500 other entries within their category. Members realize that winning is a long shot, so they've created other fundraising options.
They've already received $1,000 from the Suttons Bay Support Staff, a group of substitute teachers and support staff, and are considering several donor recognition options like plaques and paver stones to encourage community donations.
To some, a playground may not seem like much, but it can be a big deal to the children who use it.
"The playgrounds play an important role in the schools," Duncan said. "Studies show activity reduces stress and violence and improves academic achievements. Kids deserve to have a safe playground that has a lot of opportunities for creative play and current playground doesn't have that."
Not everyone in the community may use the playground, but keeping it in good working order is important.
"The children are the future of this community," Duncan said. "Without having a school here, the community would suffer. Suttons Bay struggles with keeping a student body. Not just having great teachers but great physical structures as a place for kids to learn and play is important."
To vote for the project, visit powerabrightfuture.clorox.com and search for Suttons Bay in the location or text message code 2115PBF to 95248, or donate to Suttons Bay Public Schools playground fund. Also visit suttonsbayplay.com for more information.