As we entered the school on the morning of January 2nd this year, Cheleta Primary School was a-buzz with activity. Not only were children excited to reunite with friends after a long holiday but the students had also caught a glimpse of something new in the school. As the children helped to arrange the desks throughout the school they whispered to one another, “have you seen it?”
Though incomplete, the students were ecstatic about the installation of a playground over the holidays.
For many of the 900 students attending Cheleta Primary School, this was the first time they had access to their own playground. A special assembly for the lower primary students age 6-10 gave them a chance to test the different elements of the playground. They took turns on the swings, piled onto the see-saw and mounted the playhouse. To them, it didn’t matter that the playground was incomplete, what mattered is that there was a place to play.
As construction continued on the playground, the headmistress excitedly shared the student’s experiences. “Can you believe it?! My upper primary students come to school as early as 6 a.m. just to have a chance to swing on the swings! Some of them have never been on the swings before.” She continued, “Lower primary enrollment has increased so much now that we have a playground. I have to turn families away.”
In addition to installing a playground at Cheleta Primary School for the lower primary students, the Nancy Ellen Crooks Foundation also donated a total of 20 footballs and volleyballs and even a rugby ball to the upper primary students. The ululation at the latter was as exciting as anything you’ll ever hear.
When asked by the teachers how the playground has impacted the school we learned the following:
“I’ve definitely noticed a lot of friendships fostered since the beginning of the school year,” says Teacher Monica, the grade 3 teacher. “The best part about this playground is that the swings, slide, see-saw and monkey bars offer a variety to the children who can choose their preference.”
The Grade 1 teacher, Teacher Jane, stated that whenever one of the kids does something cool/impressive, he gets praises from the other pupils. “It makes them want to show off again. I think that’s why I’ve noticed Edward really coming out of his shell on the playground” she says with a proud glance at her students, who are looking up at her with expectant glimmers in their eyes.
We would like to thank the American Chamber of Commerce and all those who supported the Cheleta Playground project. Without you, NECF would not have been able to bring happiness to the children of Cheleta Primary School.