MILLTOWN, NJ - Parkview School students may be at home learning virtually and recess is off the schedule at the moment, but eventually students will return. When they do, the children will be greeted with a new sensory playground. The addition of a sensory playground to the preschool through grade three school was the passion of former Milltown Education Foundation President Laura Carasso. The new playground, designed for prekindergarten and kindergarten students, was unveiled on September 26. It was made possible through fundraising endeavors by the Milltown Education Foundation.

"We had some informal conversations with administrators about what large projects we might be able to pursue, since we had accumulated some excess funds," Carasso said about the plan for the sensory playground. "The Parkview School principal completed the grant application after meeting with his pre-k staff, and we began to develop a plan for the project.  We knew we had $15,000 to contribute, so we applied for two additional grant's. The Northfield Bank Foundation contributed $10,000 and the Home Depot Foundation added $3,000 to cover the cost of the playground mulch."

"Students of various abilities will engage independently in the various large motor and sensory activities, as well as develop their social skills as they navigate the wide variety of activities," Carasso added.

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Parkview's new sensory playground includes a large climbing area with slides, butterfly steppers, ball toss hoops and a hill/cave climbers. It differs from a conventional playground because it contains a variety of components that offer users large motor and sensory experiences that include movement, sound and tactile sensations. The project has been in the works for a year.

The Milltown Education Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports the borough's schools. In recent months, the MEF has funded flexible seating options for all classrooms through fifth grade, obtained digital microscopic cameras for seventh and eighth grade science students, purchased materials for family science and Little Medical School. The organization also helped to bring One World Classroom to Parkview and Joyce Kilmer students. One World Classroom provides resources to help connect Milltown students with students from around the globe.

Of course, since Parkview classes are currently virtual, recess has not been in session. However, that hasn't stopped some Milltown kids from getting a sneak peek at the school's new play area.
"The playground has been a huge hit for many families looking for something fun and engaging to do," Carasso said. "Our teachers and students have yet to experience it together. Once the children are back to school, we will look forward to hearing their feedback."