BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – The Bellows Falls Promise Community announces the receipt of a $200,000 grant from the Vermont Department of Children and Families, which will be used to renovate the Central Elementary School playground located on School Street Extension in Bellows Falls. The scope of the project will include new playground equipment, shaded seating, a walking path, and resurfacing. Users of the playground are invited to participate in the planning process.
The Promise Community Initiative was created to provide support to help communities work across sectors – including health, education, human services and community planning – to do “whatever it takes” to improve the educational and developmental outcomes for children in their communities. In 2015 Bellows Falls was selected to be one of seven first Promise Communities in Vermont. Since then the Promise committee researched the village by looking at already available data, holding community-based and school-based surveys, and hosting community dinners to meet with families in the area to learn more about what families with young children need to thrive.
Throughout the research process, the Promise Community families shared their greatest needs: safe spaces for families, activities and enrichment opportunities for kids, access to services, and feeling like they belong in their community. The idea behind the playground renovation is to take the concept of a community center and create a center without walls where connections can be made, and the families can, with the Promise Community’s support, direct the programs and services available to best meet their needs. This highly visible investment in a well-used community resource will help families by providing a place where families can be and children can play; a place to make connections and be a part of the community; and a level field prioritizing equity over equality so that everyone has access.
In order for the renovation to move forward, the village has some decisions to make. A community potluck picnic will be held in the playground at Central Elementary, School Street Extension, Bellows Falls. A playground designer will be on hand as families help plan the playground. For more information about the Bellows Falls Promise Community and to get involved in the playground renovation, contact Central Elementary Principal Keith Nemlich at firstname.lastname@example.org or Youth Services Librarian at the Rockingham Free Public Library Sam Maskell at 802.463.4270/ email@example.com.