Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
HOLLADAY — Think back to memories you have from your elementary school days. If you're like a lot of people, a majority of these memories are probably set on a playground, running, jumping and climbing with friends.
Crestview Elementary School fourth grader Mike Suarez has never been able to play with his friends on the playground at his school because it isn't accessible with his wheelchair.
"Until you've seen your child sit on the sidelines and watch other kids play, year after year, because he can't join them, you don't know the heartbreak," Amber Suarez, Mike's mom, wrote in a Facebook post. "There are already limited ADA playgrounds as it is and his childhood is rapidly passing by as he misses out on these moments with his friends."
That might change soon, however, as the Granite School District approved an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant playground with just one catch: the community has to fund it.
A group of neighborhood parents has started the Crestview Playground Committee. The committee organized the Crestview Playground Project to raise $300,000 for playground renovations at Crestview Elementary.
"We would like to create a community playground that is accessible to EVERY student and provides a safe and fun place for our neighborhood," the committee's website says.
Ben Horsley, communications and community outreach director for Granite School District, said the district jumped on board with the project after the committee reached out to them.
"I've seen some of these requests take several years as communities work to plan. This one's taken maybe two weeks to get on its feet and up to speed. This is a very motivated group of individuals who are very impassioned over this issue," Horsley said.
Due to budget limitations, the district isn't able to fund the new playground.
"That's why this is so great — this community recognized that resources are finite and they're stepping up and not just providing a playground that's ADA accessible for this particular child to be able to benefit from, but frankly the whole community," Horsley said.
To help spread the word about the project, Suarez reached out to a childhood friend and local realtor Karina Perez. The two then decided to film a video with Mike at the current Crestview Elementary playground to promote the project.
"For me to be able to help them — growing up with Amber and meeting Mike and knowing what this playground will do for the community — it would mean absolutely everything to me that we would be able to get this (done)," Perez said.
To Suarez, who says her son not being able to use the playground is "a mixture of heartbreak and frustration," the outpouring of community support has been overwhelming "in a good way."
"It just opens my eyes to how many people my son's truly touched (their lives). Especially here at the school, there are so many people that are rallying together in this community just to help him," Suarez said.
People who would like to donate can do so directly through the Granite School District and indicate the money be allocated only for the playground project.
Donations can also be made through a GoFundMe page* set up by the Crestview Playground Committee.
*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.