During National Playground Safety Week (April 25-29, 2005), the National Program for Playground Safety recognized an individual that has dedicated her time and energy to helping one school district make safer play areas. This year, NPPS had an overwhelming number of nominations from highly qualified advocates. NPPS wants to thank all the individuals that are helping us raise awareness about playground safety.
The fourth annual Playground Safety Advocate of the Year Award was given to Darlene O'Keefe from Buffalo, New York. Ms. O'Keefe spearheaded a committee to create safe playgrounds for over 10,000 children in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District. The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District is one of the largest in Western New York and ranks among the most progressive school districts in the nation.
Darlene was the school board president at the time of her quest to create safe playgrounds in her school district. She opened up her home to hold meetings to discuss the current conditions. After collecting information, she created a power point presentation for the school board. The school board was shocked to see the disrepair of the playgrounds!
PTA's can not fundraise for playground equipment, so Darlene stepped up to the plate and helped raise money for the playgrounds. She formed a committee with all eight elementary schools and Assistant Superintendent for Finance, Mr. Alan Getter. They worked tirelessly for several months helping the schools with fundraiser's. Unfortunately, the schools could not raise enough. Darlene put a proposition on the school board's budget to get money from the school board to help with the funding of the playgrounds. Darlene and her supporters believe that the playground is more than a place for children to play. It is an outdoor learning environment! The money was accepted! Every elementary school can now design a valuable, accessible, and safe playground.
For all that she has done, NPPS was proud to award Darlene O'Keefe the Ahrens National Playground Safety Advocate of the Year award!
NPPS will continue to recognize individuals for their dedication to making playgrounds safe.