The Sheridan Playground Project
In the 2018 summer we did more work on the Sheridan playground. The district has re-surfaced the asphalt and installed a basketball hoop, paid for with donated funds. In August, 16 volunteers painted colorful designs, hopscotch, mazes, etc., on the asphalt. The stencils and paint were donated by St. Peter’s Health Partners, using funds from a New York State grant for Creating Healthy Schools and Communities. On September 14, 2018 we celebrated the donors and the volunteers who made this wonderful new playground possible. Here are photos from the celebration on the Albany City Schools Facebook page. (You don’t have to be a Facebook member to view the photos.)
Sheridan Preparatory Academy (SPA), located at 400 Sheridan Avenue, is a public school in the City School District of Albany, serving about 450 students in grades pre-kindergarten through five. SPA is located in a high-poverty, high-crime neighborhood. A large majority of students are Black or Hispanic and come from low-income families; many live in substandard housing, some in homeless shelters. A significant number of students are new immigrants, many from the Middle East. These students speak many different languages and are learning English as a second language—or sometimes a third or fourth.
The Sheridan playground project is a joint effort between SPA and Albany UU. Albany UU members have been volunteering at SPA for the last six years, assisting in classrooms, chaperoning field trips, and providing other assistance as needed. Our congregation’s involvement with SPA reflects our commitment to making a difference in the lives of children and families in the City of Albany. When the SPA principal and teachers identified the need for new playground equipment, our Board of Trustees committed to serving as their not-for-profit partner to raise the necessary funds and pro bono help to renovate the existing playground site and provide and erect new playground equipment. Individual Albany UU members and friends contributed more than $19,000 toward this project and the Endowment Trust contributed another $5,000. A committee of Albany UU members and SPA staff identified objectives for the playground and raised funds.
Altogether we raised more than $61,000, sufficient for purchase of two sets of play equipment: A larger set for children ages five to twelve, to replace the existing equipment, and a small set specifically for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. On October 7 and 8, 2016, more than 130 volunteers, including Albany UU members and friends, Sheridan staff and families, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, and UAlbany’s Project U worked together to install the new equipment. Click the sidebar links for news and photos of progress on the project, including the recent additions.