After a year of planning and persistence, community members celebrated the opening of Freedom Elementary School’s brand-new playground Thursday in Sykesville.
Principal Jessica Smith said the $150,000 playground features multiple levels of play, including climbing walls, a spinning merry-go-round and many other elements.
“The kids are loving it,” Smith said, adding that the playground has been open for use since January.
In March 2021, the school community launched a fundraising campaign to pay for a new playground. Two months earlier, the old playground was condemned by Carroll County Public Schools, which deemed it unsafe.
The community raised $150,000 for a full replacement in six months, way ahead of schedule, Smith said.
“Typically, it takes schools a few years to raise enough money to put in a new playground,” Smith said. “It’s amazing that we have such a supportive community that rallied around to raise the money.”
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The school’s parent-teacher association asked the public for help raising money by creating a five-minute video to bring awareness to their efforts.
Parent Todd Souder, a former PTA president who works in construction, was closely involved in the project. He initially believed it could take at least two years to raise funds for the project.
“It was pretty amazing that they were able to raise the amount of funds that they did in just a matter of a few months and get the playground rebuilt after the county condemned it and did little to nothing to help finance it,” Souder said.
Souder said state Sen. Justin Ready, a Carroll County Republican, played a crucial role in capturing a $25,000 state grant for the project.
The PTA also launched a GoFundMe campaign and sold engraved bricks to school alumni for a walkway leading to the playground. Former Baltimore Ravens player Bradley Bozeman also donated money for the project last year after hosting a local fundraiser.
“This project was a massive team effort that will bring a brand-new source of activity for the children of Freedom Elementary,” Souder said.