New playground provides new equipment and future for students in north St. Louis County

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A decades-old school playground used by hundreds of children was falling apart – literally. Finding funds to fix the problem wasn’t easy. That was until volunteers from across the metro area stepped in with a bigger, brighter, and safer solution.

More than $90,000 was raised to build a new, state-of-the art playground at Danforth Elementary in the Riverview Gardens School District.

The campaign was launched by Play4All, a not-for-profit organization that raises money for play and fitness equipment in the St. Louis area.

During the triple-digit heat on a Friday afternoon, volunteers from throughout St. Louis lent a hand to build the playground behind the school.

The community effort was appreciated by staff at Danforth Elementary.

Principal Sheri Schjolberg said the previous playground was unsafe and outdated. Moreover, children at the elementary school had become accustomed to the litter and trash, unaware that they deserved better.

The new playground, she said, is a long time coming and will provide children a much-needed tool.

“Really give them some confidence,” she said. “In just feeling good in their environment, and climate and culture that they’re in.”

Students at Danforth were challenged to raise funds and ended up exceeding the $500 goal by three times that amount.

The remaining amount came from a variety of generous donors, including Pat and Aja Stokes, and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police.

Play4All Director Victoria Schmitt Babb says the playground will translate to several positive benefits for the students.

“Research says that kids who play, they’re better students. They have a greater capacity to learn,” she said. “To us, this is just maybe a bunch of plastic climbers and slide. But to them it could be a space station. Or a castle. So they imagine a different world.”

Students will see the playground for the first time in person when school re-opens in mid-August.