NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- A North Salem school is now on an exclusive list of about a dozen places that could be the new home for a state-of-the-art portable playground.
A national contest that furnishes the winner with a state-of-the-art portable playground has been narrowed down to just a dozen schools. The Westchester Exceptional Children's School in North Salem made the final cut after its application impressed KaBoom, a nonprofit company that manufactures playgrounds.
"We were shocked," said John Caralyus, who has been on the board of trustees at the school for 20 years. "We are the only school in the Northeast that still has a chance to win. The committee saw that we were really dedicated in getting this playground for our children."
There are 90 children from ages 5-21 at the school, all of whom get the opportunity to bake, study commerce, manage an apartment and work at local companies during the school year. They will get something really special if the school makes it into the final four of the contest and receives a playground, Caralyus said.
"They can use these foamed-based playgrounds, which are portable and come in pieces, and build various projects," Caralyus said. "Children with special needs like to be active. These playgrounds will allow them to really use their minds and bodies and do something physical and feel good about what they put together."
Caralyus says if the school is fortunate enough to win a playground, the entire community will be able to benefit from it.
"We plan on loaning the playground to the library and all the pre-schools in the area so they can enjoy it, too," he said. "We can transport it to them for a week to 10 days."
The contest now goes to a vote, where anybody in the country can select the school they believe deserves to have a portable playground.
"It just started on August 1," Caralyus said. "The voting is once a day every day until October 31."
Residents can vote for the North Salem school by going to the Vote To Play Facebook page. Winners will be announced in mid-November.