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WILMINGTON A swing set, a volleyball net and a basketball hoop fill the bare space in Sunset Park Elementary School's third-through-fifth-grade playground area. But that will soon change.
By the fall, a new playground set along with $30,000 of new sports equipment will take over that spot.
Earlier this month, Sunset Park was announced as the grand winner of the 2017 Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes, a program run by the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation in partnership with Discovery Education. The award means the downtown Wilmington school will receive a playground set from Playworld as well as a $30,000 grant to put toward sporting equipment and the school s wellness program.
Principal Diego Lehocky still can t stop smiling.
This (grant) is great. We re a good school but a lot of people don t think about us, he said Thursday. This is good lesson for the kids that you can always be a winner. If you keep on trying, you ll eventually win if you keep on putting in the effort.
Sunset Park Elementary is a Title 1 school that qualifies for a 100-percent free or reduced breakfast and lunch program. Lehocky said the school normally doesn t have the money to buy volleyballs, basketballs or toys for the kids to play with, and that winning this grant is inspiring for the students.
He gives credit to music teacher Kathleen Revell for winning the sweepstakes. Revell researched the Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes and kept pushing it.
She started entering this daily, Lehocky said. There s always so many things going on during the day that someone had to push it.
Lehocky said he hopes the new playground equipment helps to promote positive lifestyle choices among students something he sees as a challenge as technology use among kids has increased.
Students would rather sit and play video games on their tablets than go outside and play, he said. Unless the kids are playing organized sports, they are more than likely sitting at home.
Lehocky hopes this grant will help promote healthy lifestyle choices for his students and their parents. He said Sunset Park already promotes healthy minds and healthy bodies in its PE classes and has a small garden outside the school building used to demonstrate how to grow fruits and vegetables.
Lehocky believes this will also benefit the surrounding community, since residents use the school playground on weekends.
The school plans to use the $30,000 grant to purchase another volleyball net, hula hoops, kickballs and another basketball goal.
They also plan to take field trips and bring in speakers to talk to the students about wellness. The new playground is scheduled to arrive late summer 2017.
Reporter Kate Brennan can be reached at 910-343-2023 or Kate.Brennan@StarNewsOnline.com
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