NEWBURY — Newbury Elementary School is poised to have a new playground.

“Design the dreams of your children” was the theme suggested by Lisa Deshano, a designer for Play By Design, a leading design firm dedicated to community built playgrounds.

Working with a committee of the Newbury Elementary School PTA, NES GROWS (Growing Real Opportunities for Wonders in the Schoolyard), Play By Design helps communities design and build cost-effective playgrounds through community participation.

“A playground can be more than just a space for physical activity. Properly planned it can engage the whole student, enhancing learning, creativity and individual growth,” said Eileen Wallworks, president of the NES GROWS committee and driving force behind the project. 

Wallwork’s committee has already created a nature trail on the school grounds, a vegetable garden and a rain garden. It is her hope that the community built playground will serve not only students and teachers but the entire community.

To learn what their ideal playground would include, Deshano met with classroom students throughout the day last Monday and developed an initial design plan for presentation that evening. The meeting was attended by dozens of excited students, their parents and school officials including Christopher Farmer, superintendent of the Triton Regional School District, and Beth Yando, principal of the Newbury Elementary School.

Deshano described the “community build” process and the opportunity to engage large numbers of individuals from throughout the community to contribute needed skills and capabilities. Some of the committees include materials, construction, tools, captains, child care, cooking, donors, and volunteers; at the end of the meeting parents were busy signing up for them. 

Deshano related the experiences of other communities and how the process exceeded all expectations, strengthening community pride and service. She talked briefly about projects that had been completed in Ipswich and Truro and encouraged parents to visit these playgrounds.

Finally, Deshano brought the children up to the front. Crowded around her and speaking directly to the children, she unveiled the initial schematic plan to choruses of excited oohs and aahs. 

Included in the first rendering was a giant ship with a maze and crow’s nest, a bouncy bridge, a climbing tower like a spider web, rope wall, fire pole, rock climbing wall, amphitheater and stage area, outdoor classrooms, reading areas, swings, a big house, nature trail and more all integrated in and around the existing baseball, soccer, football fields and basketball court. There was also a nature trail and space to integrate the existing vegetable garden.

By speaking to the children, Deshano conveyed the concepts of the plan to the parents while highlighting the excitement it engenders in the children. She suggested that the parents could think about how they will feel when they hear from their children, “Thank you for building my ideas.”

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