Mon. Mar 4th, 2024

Neighbor Donation Puts Inclusive Playground into Motion for Sacajawea School

Avatar By Renee Weisbrod Feb 9, 2024

The Sacajawea PTA has been raising money for a fully inclusive playground since November 2022. Thanks to a $150,000 donation from a neighborhood donor, they have gained momentum and are almost at their goal.

While all students will be excited about a new playground, the inclusivity hits close to home for one Sacajawea family. “Accessibility is something a lot of us take for granted,” stated Sarah Ashmore Goldsmith, Sacajawea PTA President, and the Founder of the Sacajawea Inclusive Playground Project.   

Almost 9 years ago, Sarah Goldsmith went into labor at 22 weeks gestation and gave birth to twin girls at just 25 weeks gestation. Izzy and Olivia were both just one pound when they were born. Both girls had the most severe levels of intraventricular hemorrhages, infections, and chronic lung disease. They had PICC lines, numerous blood transfusions, required ventilators, blood draws, spinal taps, and medications. They were both given a small chance of survival and they spent the first several weeks of their lives on life support while battling to live. 

Izzy developed hydrocephalus and underwent five brain surgeries in the NICU while Olivia battled severe respiratory difficulties. After several months and three neonatal intensive care units, in two different states, they were able to come home. However, the effects of prematurity do not always end in the NICU.  

Izzy has Cerebral Palsy and will require the use of a wheelchair or walker for the rest of her life. Izzy currently attends weekly Physical and Occupational Therapy.

Both girls are in 3rd grade at Sacajawea School but have never had the opportunity to play on the playground equipment together during recess. Due to the pea gravel on the playground, Izzy spends every recess watching her friends play. When the weather is nice, Izzy sometimes crawls through the gravel, because her wheelchair can’t make it through. 

Since November 2022 they have raised $316,000 with various fundraising. The Sacajawea PTA fundraisers have raised $90,000. Local businesses & private donors have donated $200,000. The neighbor’s donation put them close enough to their goal that they hope to begin construction this summer. However, they still need $80,000 to cover the groundwork & installation costs.

“I love all children and we need to work together so children of all abilities have the opportunity to play together from an early age,” stated the anonymous neighbor in a press release.

“We are so proud to live in this community and see that true inclusivity is so important to the people who live here,” stated Sarah Goldsmith in the press release. “We are hoping with a little more generosity, we will reach our goal by May. Our goal is to have the groundwork done in June, and playground equipment installed in July. We are so appreciative of every donation that gets us closer to the finish line.”

The playground will be fully inclusive with sections of poured-in-place rubber surfacing providing access to a large play structure as well as stand-alone equipment.

Donations to the Sacajawea Inclusive Playground Project can be made by sending a check to Sacajawea PTA, online or to the GFPS Foundation- make sure to note it’s for Sacagawea. For more information on upcoming fundraisers, follow the Sacajawea PTA Great Falls Montana Facebook page. 

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