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Hampstead Elementary seeking to raise funds for ‘inclusive’ playground

The Hampstead Elementary School community is teeing up for a fundraiser that could help buy a new playground.

For the price of $80 per person, the public can participate in the elementary school’s first golf outing at the Westminster National Golf Course on May 21 staring at 1 p.m. Proceeds will go toward purchasing a more inclusive playground set for the school.

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“Hampstead Elementary School’s goal is to replace the existing dated playground with one that is adapted for students with special needs,” Principal Arlene Moore said in an email. “HES desires to have a playground that is wheelchair accessible and provides sensory stimulation for students with disabilities. "

The Hampstead Elementary community is raising money for a more inclusive playground by hosting a golf event.
The Hampstead Elementary community is raising money for a more inclusive playground by hosting a golf event.

Moore added the playground will allow students with special needs to interact with their “typical developing peers” on the playground daily. It’s expected to cost $120,000 and the pandemic has caused them to stall the school community’s fundraising efforts. Carroll’s public school system does not provide funding for playgrounds. It is up to the individual schools. And Hampstead has raised less than $10,000 so far.

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Joy Bell, a reading specialist at Hampstead Elementary and who is leading the playground committee, said she and about a dozen people involved from the Parent Teacher Organization chose a golf outing for the fundraiser because the weather is getting warmer and social distancing is possible.

The plan is to continue to have golfing events as fundraisers each year. Bell said after the playground the money can go toward a book room that places books in the hands of students, and toward technology to make sure students and staff have the latest.

Kathy Albert, the PTO golf tournament chairperson, said in an email to Bell they make about $100 per four-person group of golfers. The goal is to have at least 23 groups to make $2300. They are also contacting local businesses to sponsor a hole for $50 and have a sign of the business logo on it. They want at least 18 hole sponsors. With other sales made the day of the tournament, she said she hopes they raise $5,000.

Bell said it has typically taken schools three years to raise money for a playground and it might take the Hampstead Elementary community another two years to reach its goals.

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The playground, which is about 20 years old, is not handicap accessible, there are no ramps and no way for students who are wheelchair-bound to play with the rest of the students, Bell said. The new playground will provide that. It will also include sensory pieces for students in the Autism program that would allow them to play in proximity with the rest of the students.

Bell said recess is a time where students can play with few restrictions, so the playground itself should not restrict some students from enjoying that time as well.

The current playground equipment was closed to students when hybrid learning started. Students played on the blacktop and in the field. But since more students returned to in-person learning last week, students can play on the equipment again while wearing masks.

Bell said the kids do well with the mask-wearing and do not complain at all.

Elementary schools began allowing students to attend in-person classes at least four days per week March 15. Middle and high school students started their return to a nearly full-time, in-person scheduled on Monday.

Since the 380 of about 400 Hampstead students returned last week, school has gone well, Bell said.

“All the students and staff are so happy to be back,” she said, adding it’s not quite back to normal but the teaching and learning has been easier.

Payments for the golf event is due May 7 and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Checks should be made payable to “Hampstead Elementary PTO” and mailed to Hampstead Elementary Attn: PTO, 3737 Shiloh Road, MD 21074. Payments can also be made through a PayPal link. For questions, call or email Kathy Albert at 410-375-5638 or Kathy.p.albert@gmail.com.

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