To the editor:
Community spirit is in the air in Newburyport. A coalition of churches and community groups has come together to raise money to build a new playground at the Kelleher Park public housing facility in Newburyport. This project provides the entire Newburyport community with a great opportunity to show compassion and caring for our neighbors and friends.
Newburyport removed the 25-year-old Kelleher Park playground structure in 2010 after it was deemed unsafe. With recent budget cuts, no public funds are available to replace the structure.
In response, Central Congregational Church, the First Religious Society Unitarian Universalist, Belleville Congregational Church, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, the Kelleher Park Tenants Association, the Newburyport Housing Authority and the Newburyport Learning Enrichment Center have formed a coalition to raise $35,000 to prepare the site, buy and install playground equipment and set up a maintenance fund to ensure the structure remains in good repair.
To date, fundraising efforts have raised $17,500 through individual contributions, grants, a spaghetti dinner and other activities. But we still have to double our funds raised to date!
The public will have an opportunity to participate by attending the Kelleher Park Playground Art Show and Sale at the First Religious Society at 26 Pleasant St. in Newburyport. The show will run from 1-8 p.m. on Friday, March 22, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 23. The art show, presented in collaboration with Laurie Ingersoll of the River Valley Charter School, will feature donated works by local artists and teens. All proceeds will go to the Kelleher Park Playground fundraising effort. Art can be purchased with checks or cash.
Kelleher Park provides subsidized housing to 42 low-income families. The playground will benefit the 43 children who live at Kelleher Park, as well as an additional 130 low-income children who are eligible for academic support and recreational programming offered by the Newburyport Learning Enrichment Center, located on the Kelleher Park campus. Research has shown that playgrounds provide crucial and vital opportunities for children to accelerate emotional, social, motor and cognitive development.