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New playground project planned at Neal Wilkins
PTO seeks to raise $15,000 for first phase of project to upgrade wooden equipment
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Replacing the 25-year-old wooden playground equipment in the foreground is the newest Neal Wilkins PTO project. The 2007 playground equipment is in the background. - photo by Photo by Steve Prestegard

PLATTEVILLE — The families and staff at Neal Wilkins Early Learning Center in Platteville are taking on a new challenge.

Seven years ago, the Parent–Teacher Organization led the effort to build a durable and exciting outdoor play area on the west end of the playground. The group is now ready to begin a project to replace the 25-year-old wooden equipment on the east end.

Neal Wilkins Early Learning Center is the school-time home to nearly 300 pre-kindergarten to first-grade children. Their day is packed with important classroom learning and lessons. The outdoor play areas are   an important part of their school day too. The playgrounds are places for the children to release energy, practice social skills, refine gross motor skills, and improve core body strength. The playtimes transfer back into the classroom and enhance the children’s overall ability to stay focused and get the most out of their lesson.

The playground improvement project is estimated to cost $30,000 to $40,000 and will be accomplished in phases. The goal for phase one is $15,000. More than $5,000 has already been dedicated to the playground fund.

The target date for completion of the first phase is September. The project is being organized by a playground committee made up of school staff, community members, and the PTO.

The Neal Wilkins Early Learning Center project will be the fifth community funded playground improvement project to benefit the Platteville Public Schools since 2005. A new playground was built at Neal Wilkins in 2007 and expanded in 2008. The middle school got its first play area in 2009. New equipment was installed at Westview Elementary in 2010. Each time, the PTO led the effort, organizing fundraising, planning improvements, and providing volunteer labor during the installation.

The PTO led each community-wide effort and brought it all together to provide safe, stimulating, and fun play areas for school children.