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Rex day care in playground sweepstakes

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Rex Childcare and Early Learning, in Rex, recently became one of five schools and day care facilities in the nation in line to win $10,000 worth of playground improvements from the KaBOOM organization. In order to win the top prize, the day care will need the votes of the greater community.

In September, Rex Childcare and Early Learning joined more than 1,000 schools and day-care centers across the country participating in Play Day 2009, a nationwide effort to improve the safety and beauty of playgrounds. The effort was coordinated by KaBOOM, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to helping communities build playgrounds for children.

During Play Day 2009, organizations sent in videos of their events to KaBOOM. Recently, the top five events were selected by Baltimore Ravens Fullback Le'Ron McClain, who is co-sponsoring the effort.

According to Ada Ngoddy, owner of Rex Childcare and Early Learning, the center was selected as one of the top-five organizations for its Fall Fest, an event in which children painted benches and planted flowers around their playground and participated in educational games. Until Dec. 1, the public will have the chance to visit http://playday.kaboom.org and vote, up to once per day, to determine which organization will receive a $10,000 grant to build a new playground.

"During the fall festival, the kids and their families painted the benches outside the playground, they cleaned up the play area, children played all kinds of games, and then we talked to the parents about the importance of play," said Ngoddy. "We talked to parents about how it can have a positive impact on obesity and diabetes. It's good for their [children's] health and it's a learning process for them.

"[Play Day 2009] was done by 1,200 people and we were chosen as one of the top five," she continued. "We are the only [organization] in Georgia. We're hoping that everyone in the state of Georgia will vote for us."

According to Rex Childcare and Early Learning Director Beverly Knox, the center cares for children from the age of four weeks old to 14 years of age. She said the center has three age-specific play areas, two of which were upgraded several years ago with the help of a KaBOOM grant. She said the day care hopes to use the proceeds of the Play Day 2009 contest to replace an older, wooden playground set with a modern playground capable of being used by older children at the center.

"We landed one time with KaBOOM and we were hoping to land again with a $10,000 playground that could benefit the children," Knox said. "It helped a lot because before, the previous playground had been there for 14 years. Our children deserve the best. If we can ... we will try to get them the best."

Knox said plans for the new playground area include a jungle gym, a twisted slide, monkey bars, climbing facilities, and a firefighter pole.

Ngoddy said part of the grant would be used to renovate a fence surrounding the playground area. She said the new playground would be built with "eco-friendly" materials and provide a safer play environment.

"It's going to improve the quality of play [that] the children have outside," Ngoddy said.

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On the net: www.kaboom.org