Youngstown Playground Initiative reaches $125,000 within three months

Written by Terri Huxley

A simulation of what the new equipment should look like once installed. The entire surface will be rubber, not half wood fibre like shown here. ECA Review/Friends of Youngstown School Society

It all started when a little girl was going to school in the fall.

The community of Youngstown and surrounding areas have pitched in on the matching Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) grant which will allow five-year-old Brooklyn Laughlin to attend school but also enjoy a brand new outdoor playground designed to be inclusive of everyone’s needs.

The CFEP grant’s successful applications will not be announced until May.

This will make or break the project but the committee is optimistic it will go through due to the nature of the situation, how much money was raised so quickly and the beneficial impact it will have on the village and area.

Laughlin was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.

According to her mother Natalia, she has reached an age where she is wanting to become more independent as the days go on so when the playground is installed adjacent to the current one, it is set to allow her and anyone else with extra difficulties to be able to play without worry or restrictions.

“It does make it harder,” began Natalia. “For example a few years ago my older boys did Taekwon-do at the school and so we would play here [at the playground] but it was a lot of work because I would have to carry her here and carry her there. S

“he couldn’t do it on her own so then she is missing out on all the developmental side of playgrounds because she is not independent, not building the muscles she does have and not developing those cognitive abilities that playgrounds provide.”

If all goes according to plan, the playground will be ready for use by the start of the 2021-2022 school year in the fall.