Durham elementary school parents raising money to replace broken, aging playground equipment

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A group of parents at a Durham elementary school are trying to raise $15,000 to upgrade their school's playground.

The Hope Valley Elementary PTA set up a GoFundMe earlier this month, following growing concerns from students and parents over the equipment's current state.

"Well my son particularly came to me and said 'I was the last person to go down that slide before they took it down.' And that is disheartening," said Millicent Rogers, the PTA president.

Rogers has a second-grader who has attended Hope Valley since he was in kindergarten.

The PTA said the original company that made the slide is no longer in business, and a replacement part purchased by the school is not compatible.

While the equipment has been an issue in years past, the wear and tear added by the school's growing enrollment has exacerbated issues.

According to the PTA, more than two-thirds of students are on free or reduced lunch, a statistic that PTA member Theresa Erling believes highlights the need for better equipment.

"Our children don't get enough time outside as it is. A lot of our children don't have the means to participate in a paid, after-school sport. But they do have access to our school and our playground. So I think it's our job as parents to support the school in their mission to educate our children," said Theresa Erling, a PTA member and mother of two Hope Valley students.

Other issues include drainage in fields, rundown equipment, and a lack of equipment.

Rogers said the value of upgrades is two-fold.

"We hope that it will have an impact on the students and future parents because we host a kindergarten play-date. It's important that when parents come to school, they see these key selling points for the school, and that they know that their students are going to be safe on the playgrounds. And they're going to have a great outdoor experience to match their great classroom experience," said Rogers.

Both Rogers and Erling spoke highly of their children's overall experience at Hope Valley and noted the school was aware of the fundraising efforts before they began the donation drive.

Through Tuesday afternoon, they had raised $1,150. While that's short of their $15,000 goal, it's enough to start making changes.

"Our partnership and our responsibility is to bring something to the table. So this is what we're trying to do. We're trying to bring something to the table and say 'let's fix this problem together,'" Erling said.

The PTA has applied for a grant with Dick's Sporting Goods to further assist them; they expect to find out the results by the end of the year.

Their hope is to replace the slide, add free-standing play structures and equipment - such as soccer nets and basketballs - and build a Gaga ball court.

ABC11 reached out to the Durham Public School District for comment on the playground, but have not heard back.

If you're interested in learning more about the fundraiser or donating, click here.
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