New Co-op Playground

This is an artist’s drawing of what the new Franklin County Cooperative playground will look like after it has been constructed.

The playground at the Franklin County Cooperative is receiving a facelift, thanks in part to it being chosen a winner in the Kentucky Fried Chicken Li’l Playground Facebook Contest.

The co-op was one of two grand-prize winners in the nationwide contest and received $11,000 to put toward its playground.

The grant will be used to add wheelchair ramps and handicap-accessible equipment to benefit the co-op’s special needs students. As with all the winners, the cooperative also will receive $500 in Li’l Bucket Kids Meals gift checks.

The Franklin County Special Education Cooperative was nominated by former teacher Monica Hiatt.

“Many students require occupational therapy, and it’s very hard for them to use the current playground equipment,” Hiatt said. “Sometimes the kids have to sit and watch their classmates play. We want them to be able to play, interact with one another and build social skills.”

In addition, Domino’s Pizza donated $1,000 toward the project. Caleb Holder, general manager of the St. Clair store, conducted a fund-raiser in May as a portion of pizza proceeds were donated to the cause.

Also, Dale Carroll from Carroll Mill and Lumber, has donated his time and labor to the excavation portion of the project, and community members Paul and Sandra Meyer made a monetary donation.

“Winning this contest is very exciting and adds momentum to our project,” said Cheri Fortney, director of kindergarten through 12th-grade programs at the facility. “This project is important for the children attending the co-op school. The existing equipment is very old and not wheelchair accessible. Many people do not realize the condition of our current playspace because you cannot see the playground from the front of our school.” 

In late March, KFC launched its contest and invited individuals to enter to win makeovers for their local community playgrounds. The contest was launched in conjunction with the introduction of KFC’s new Li’l Bucket Kids Meals.

“We received stories and photos from some very deserving organizations,” KFC Chief Marketing Officer Jason Marker said. “KFC is pleased to be able to give ‘a li’l help’ to these playgrounds and help make them even better places for the children in these communities.”

The other big winner is located in Broad Channel, Queens, N.Y. There, the community will use its $11,000 grant to rebuild a playground that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

There were three finalists that will receive $1,000 each.

Playground Project

The co-op began working with Landscape Structures about a year ago to design an inclusive playground. The plans include sensory stimulating activities for children with autism and wheelchair-accessible equipment that meets ADA guidelines. 

Fortney said the “dream playground design” will cost more than $60,000.

“We plan to purchase and install the playground in three phases,” she said. “Phase one will be installed this fall.”

A playground committee has been put together and includes administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and community members. Fund-raising efforts have included the local Domino’s Pizza. Fortney said a golf tournament also has been planned for October.

Currently the Franklin County Special Education Cooperative serves about 60 students from the area.

KFC Corp. is based in Louisville, Ky.

For more information, contact Fortney at 636-629-3571, extension 104.