To Fund A Playground That All Children Could Enjoy, They Have Raised Almost $700,00

A Minnesota elementary school has achieved an A+ in compassion by raising over $600,000 to create a more inclusive, wheelchair-accessible playground. The initiative was spearheaded by Betsy Julien, a teacher at Glen Lake Elementary School who observed that the current playground did not cater to all students, including the eight who used wheelchairs.

Julien, who has a child in a wheelchair, was inspired to act after witnessing recess and applied for a grant, ultimately involving her students. The children raised $35,000, which later reached $300,000, and they now aim to collect $1 million to fund a fully-inclusive playground. Julien noted that while this goal may sound lofty, it is a normal and humble aspiration in the playground world.

What Motivated The Students To Get Involved?

Julien applied for a grant and got some district funding, but they still needed $35,000 for a swing and a merry-go-round. A student asked why they weren’t doing the whole playground, and they created a fundraising page that raised $10,000 on the first day. After three months, they have raised $690,000. They formed 20 advisory groups and used various approaches such as bake sales, coin drives, and contacting local businesses. They even talked to locals about their initiative on a bus driven by Julien.

So What’s Next?

Julien explained that her class believes every child deserves a great playground, and as a parent of a special needs child, she knows how important it is to advocate and fight for their acceptance and love. Landscape Structures is working with the school to plan renovations, and a swing and merry-go-round have already been ordered. The playground should be partially installed in August, with the remainder to be raised by spring 2024. The students organize an auction and work with the Minnesota Timberwolves to sell t-shirts. They also want to start a nonprofit to help other schools, especially those with fewer special needs students.