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PCSD students Make A Difference by volunteering time at elementary schools

PCSD students painting four-square at Pleasant Valley Elementary November 11, 2019


Every elementary school playground in the Parma City School District will get a boost of color and fun, thanks to a grant from ServeOhio for Make A Difference Day.

Make A Difference Day is the largest national day of volunteering to meet community needs, according to ServeOhio, and is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of October.

ServeOhio, along with AEP Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service, awarded over $18,000 in grants to organizations across Ohio for service projects this October.

PCSD received a $1,700 grant to have games and activities painted on the ground near the playgrounds.

“A consensus among some elementary school teachers was that we could use the funding to add playground stenciling,” shared Craig Blike, PCSD’s Administrative Specialist for Grants and Special Programs. “We have volunteers from PTAs, current students at the elementary schools and CTE (career and technical education) students completing these projects. The thought was to include high school students to bring them back to their roots and develop a mentorship with some of the younger students.”

On October 25, a day before the official Make A Difference Day, several volunteers from Pleasant Valley Elementary School, as well as students from the Visual Communications Career Tech program at Valley Forge and other Valley Forge student volunteers, completed several painting projects at the school.

Students created a colorful sensory path and hopscotch with stencils. The painted activity gives directions on how to complete the path with places to jump, crawl, tip-toe and crab walk. Pleasant Valley students have two new four-square courts, as well.

Each school will use the stencils from this grant to paint their sensory path and other playground activities.

Blike shared that he anticipates about 80 volunteers will help make this project possible at all of the elementary schools.

“I remember at my elementary school there was a big U.S. map, so I learned all my U.S. geography from the playground map,” he added. “It’s great for students to have other learning opportunities on the playground. Also, this can potentially be used outside of school hours since between 2 and 11 percent of our student body, depending on the school, live a quarter-mile from the school, and 80 to 90 percent live within one mile. They can walk and utilize the recess space beyond school hours.”

As of print, Pleasant Valley was able to complete this project, but with rainy and wintery conditions coming through the area, other schools have not yet had the opportunity.

There are other funding opportunities through ServeOhio, Blike said, with grants available for service projects around Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and Global Youth Service Day in the spring.

“If we were going to apply for a grant around Martin Luther King Day, we would most likely reach out to the middle schools and see if they have a need,” he expressed.


PHOTO CAPTION: Students paint a colorful four-square design at Pleasant Valley as part of Make A Difference Day. The district received a $1,700 grant for these colorful additions at the schools.