With a catchy tune, kids appeal to community for a place to play at school

With a catchy tune, kids appeal to community for a place to play at school

PAHOA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Teachers and students at a Big Island school are trying to raise funds to replace their rusting playground that the Department of Education condemned in 2017.

And they’ve recently released a music video to help bring attention to their campaign.

The playground at Keonepoko Elementary School in Pahoa is covered in yellow caution tape.

Second grade teacher Judith Tang is spearheading the push for a new playground where the school’s 575 students can exercise and socialize. She recently created the non-profit group “Friends of Keonepoko” to help raise funds.

"I got a little upset because, as a teacher, I really know the importance of play," said Tang. "It also really helps build your brain."

To kick off the campaign, teacher Christi-Jean Donnelly wrote a catchy song and another teacher filmed a music video with a cell phone to show the hazardous play structures that are off limits.

The students living in the high-poverty area have faced several challenges in recent years, including Tropical Storm Iselle as well as eruption threats in 2014 and 2018.

"We could hear the explosions even from our campus. We had to close down the school one day because the sulfur levels were two high," said Donnelly.

“In the previous eruption, we had to move our school.”

The excited students had a chance to submit their ideas during a playground design contest.

"They haven't allowed the kids to play on it (the playground) so they have all that tape and everything around it. It's like putting a big bowl of candy out there and telling the kids, 'You can't eat it,'" said Donnelly.

A Krispy Kreme doughnut sale brought in $3,000 of the $375,000 goal.

The state DOE plans to pitch in $100,000 for the new playground and pay for the removal of the existing one.

To donate to the school’s playground fund, click here.

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