YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. – Benjamin Franklin Elementary students are ready to “Play On” a brand new, state-of-the-art playground after a grand opening ribbon cutting Tuesday, Oct. 8 in Yorktown Heights.
Principal Patricia Mcilvenny-Moore, Lakeland Superintendent George Stone, PTA members and students were joined by Senator Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) for the morning event. Ball played a big role in fundraising the playground by securing a $75,000 bullet aid grant.
“As principal of Benjamin Franklin School, I am pleased to announce that our two year effort to build a new playground is now a reality,” Mcilvenny-Moore said. “On behalf of Benjamin Franklin students and staff, we are truly grateful to Senator Ball and his office for their determined effort to make this happen.”
The school now has two usable playgrounds, which should help more than 600 students find room to play during recess and after-school activities. The new equipment is designed to prevent childhood obesity by keeping kids active as part of the school’s Play On project, which promotes more exercise during recess.
“It was time for a new playground,” Mcilvenny-Morre said. “Our other playground can only hold about 70 to 80 students at once. With our student body, that wasn’t enough. Now our students should have plenty of options when they’re choosing how they want to interact socially during recess. They’ve been chomping their teeth waiting to get on the new one.”
Ball was greeted by an enthusiastic student audience, and began his introduction with “Who wants to challenge me in a pull-up contest?”
“Childhood obesity is an epidemic that we are just beginning to grapple with the reality and consequences of," said Senator Greg Ball. "I’m proud to work with this great school to help counteract the ever-growing problem of childhood obesity and diabetes before it starts. This playground will play a large role in that, for this great community."
Ben Franklin fifth-grade “peer leaders” joined school officials and Ball for the ribbon cutting, and were also the first students to give the new playground a try – with one of them indeed battling Ball in a friendly pull-up contest.
“It’s just so awesome to have something new outside,” fifth grader Kevin Keagan said. “Especially for the fifth graders, to get the chance to use this before we leave is great. It’s very exciting.”
PTA President Diane Kness said the playground was a great example of the motto “it takes a village to raise a child.”
Ben Franklin Playground Committee member Karen Brown echoed Kness’s sentiment.
“Two years ago, the Ben Franklin playground committee was formed having no idea what we were getting ourselves into,” she said. “Thanks to many helping hands, fundraisers, donations and the grant from Greg Ball's office, we have an awesome playground and swings for the present as well as the future children of Ben Franklin to enjoy. We are thrilled.”