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Throggs Neck Houses celebrates new playground

Once an unsafe play space, children of Throggs Neck Houses’ Child Care Center now have a modern facility.

Councilman James Vacca, who secured a $100,000 grant for the project, joined teachers, parents, staff and community members at the center, at 461 Swinton Avenue, to cut the ribbon and officially open the new playground on Friday, August 22.

“Play is an important part of education,” commented Vacca.  “It is one thing to have academics; it is another to have socialization.  Children who can play together will learn together and the previous playground was basically unusable.”

 “The other park was a security issue for young children. Now everything is in the school’s own contained area,” stated Vacca, who went on to add, “Children may have a little trepidation and be a little shy, but when they get to know each other outside the classroom it opens up doors.”

There was no truer statement according to Parent Teachers Association president Roxanne Hamberry, who has her own four-year-old daughter, Faith enrolled in the school.

 “I really thank Mr. Vacca,” she said.  “Faith’s activity level has shot up since she’s been able to run around and we don’t have to worry about the children scrapping their knees.”

Hamberry was proud of the play space now occupying her child’s school.  “It really looks nice and shows the community is really caring for the school,” she added. 

Each year, members of the council are permitted to choose a certain amount of projects they wish to oversee and complete.  This playground is just one of approximately 40 improvements made by Vacca in the last year. 

Jennie Connolly, director of the center and active member since 1981, was very thankful for Vacca’s decisiveness.

In order to show their appreciation, the board of directors, staff and students at the school presented Vacca with a plaque.

“This neighborhood is a part of me,” she said.  “Before this playground went up we didn’t really have anything; we just used portable equipment.”

The new playground is divided into three sections, including an area for sprinklers and showers, two jungle gyms, and safety surfacing for protection.  Attractive fencing and an inviting entranceway for students to take pride in complement the area. 

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