By Greg Argos
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Since it opened in 2008, Antonia Pantoja Charter School in North Philadelphia has never had a playground for its students. That will all change this Thursday.
“On Thursday, we’re going to have over 200 volunteers that are going to help us and build a beautiful playground here for our students,” said principal Sandra Gonzalez.
Parents, 76ers basketball players, even some nuns visiting Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families are going to help construct the playground. The school is in an economically distressed area, and there are not many safe outdoor outlets for children to enjoy.
“We right now don’t have a gym or an adequate gym. We are using a small classroom as a gym room and during our recess time, our kids are also playing in a small area but they don’t have any equipment to play with,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez says even though the playground will be used for the 709 students at the school, there are plans to open it up for other members of the surrounding community.
“We are going to have a time where community members can come out and play with their children,” said Gonzalez.
The build will happen this Thursday, and plans are to have it completed in one day. Students at the school say they cannot wait to play on it.
“I get to go to the monkey bars and go upside down because my dad taught me how,” said Shania Cruz, a third grader at the school
“We’re going to have a new playground and I’m not sure how it’s going to look yet, and I really want to see how it feels to have a new playground in the school,” said Elian Ortiz, another third grader.
Sixth grader Henesy Morales says she’s grateful for the help the community gave to build the gym.
“I really give thanks to the people who wanted to do this for our playground,” she said.
In all the cost for the playground is around $70,000. Most of the money was donated by various businesses and community members.