Students to raise money for play equip.

Published 6:25 am Sunday, September 30, 2012

Students, staff and volunteers are gearing up for a walk-a-thon to raise money for upgrades for the playground at Halverson Elementary School.

The walk-a-thon will be Friday during school hours, and students will walk to Frank Hall Park and the Blazing Star Trail before heading back to the school. Already the parent-teacher organization at Halverson, SPIRIT, has raised more than $1,000 from donations from local businesses. It hopes to continue to raise money to replace the 30-year-old equipment.

“We held our first walk-a-thon last year, and it was wildly successful,” SPIRIT President Sarah Veldman said.

Students at Halverson Elementary School are raising funds to update playground equipment and make it more accessible to all students. -- Submitted

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While the equipment is old, that’s not the only problem. SPIRIT would like to make the playground more accessible to all students, especially those with special needs. The parent-teacher organization teamed up with the district and the Special Education Advisory Council to design a playground that can be used by a wide range of students, including those in wheelchairs.

“It ties in perfectly with the Blue Zones Vitality Project in Albert Lea,” Veldman said. “We’re raising money in a healthy way to build a healthy place to play.”

SPIRIT is also hoping the playground attracts families to Albert Lea after it is built. They said the nearest playground like it is in Rochester and Mankato.

Halverson has about 400 students, and 25 percent of those students qualify for special education services. Many are non-verbal and confined to wheelchairs, which is why SPIRIT sees the need for a more inclusive playground.

“This is a huge investment for our school community and so badly needed,” Veldman said. “But we need the community to help.”

The community is encouraged to cheer on the children and staff as they walk on Friday. Donations can be sent to the school at 707 Tenth St., Albert Lea.