WILMINGTON — The Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department partnered with third- and fourth-graders from Holmes Elementary to select new park equipment for the Southeast Community Park.
Students who ride the bus and live in the area near the Southeast Community Park were given the opportunity to select the new equipment they would like to see at the park. The Parks and Recreation Department felt that it was important to give the children who will be using this equipment the opportunity to have their voice heard.
The children were given a budget and their job was to select the equipment based on the budget they were given.
They were given Skittles to represent the amount of money they had to spend. The students were divided into four groups and each group was given 16 Skittles to spend. From there, the students worked together to decide which equipment they would like to see the most.
It was interesting to watch the children interact and give their reasoning as they determined what equipment was most important to them.
Donovan Perdue, a third-grader, said, “I liked using the Skittles to choose the equipment, plus we were able to eat them!”
This activity was a great way to keep the students engaged and to allow their voice to be heard on a decision that will have an impact on them.
“The goal was to engage the students in a way that would make them feel more connected to the park,” said Lori Kersey Williams, Director of the Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department. “Those students ride the bus to that neighborhood and it truly is their park. We also needed some real play experts to help us make good choices, and who better than third- and fourth-graders?”
Williams said she enjoyed working with the students, and the students enjoyed the process as well.
Fourth-grader Kennon Leston shared his thoughts: “Unbelievable! It’s been a long time since we’ve had newer equipment,” he said. “I feel we need it and it will give us more opportunity when we play and we will want to go more often.”
This shows how excited the children in that neighborhood feel about the opportunity to play with new equipment at their local park. The new equipment will attract more kids and families to the park and it will make them want to visit the park more frequently.
“The students enjoyed the voting process using the Skittles,” said Holmes Elementary Principal Carrie Zeigler. “Because there was a budget, students were forced to compromise on what equipment they wanted and what they could realistically afford. This was a great learning experience for all students involved.”
Williams later said, “Was I surprised? It did exceed my expectations — who knew that you could select equipment so effectively and in such a fun way with Skittles using teamwork, math and creativity.
“As you know, they selected equipment much different than you and I, so am really glad we asked them because they are the fun experts.”
This was a great learning experience for both the students at Holmes Elementary and the City of Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department.
Working with the students gave the Parks and Recreation Department an opportunity to engage with the community and it gave the students an opportunity to choose what type of equipment they would like to see at their local park.
Brandon Williams attends Wilmington College and is interning with the City of Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department.