In the fall of 2010, the Growing Together Initiative began when a group of parents from Gompers and Black Hawk became concerned over the poor condition of our playground equipment. After meeting several times and developing a new plan for our school grounds, Growing Together was on a mission. Many students were part of the planning process as we took surveys asking the students what they wanted to see for new playground equipment. We took the results to our vendor, Gerber Leisure, who then made a few playground designs for the students to decide on. We came up with 5 phases:
The mission of Growing Together is to create an interactive outdoor space that will cultivate community relationships by encouraging awareness and appreciation of our environment, promote safe physical activities, and instill a love for learning across generations of the Northside neighborhoods of Madison, Wisconsin.
A $10,000 grant was received through Fiskars Inc. and on May 26, 2011, hundreds of people gathered together to build our new community garden. It provides 16 garden plots for community members, Gompers and Black Hawk have their own plost, it can be used for curriculum-based learning for the students, and we have been able to provide some fresh produce to our families as well as donating some to the local food pantries.
The second phase of the project was to renovate the land in the front of Gompers. In less than one year our school community was able to raise $45,000 through various fundraisers such as bake sales, coin drives, Culver’s Scoopie Nights, the Cherokee Golf Effect, individual and family donations and by securing two significant grants; $7,500 from UW Health and $15,000 from a KaBoom! Grant. On August 24, 2012 over one hundred school and community members gathered to build our new front playground. Pete Vogel, President and CEO of Vogel Brothers Construction Company on our north side, donated a full week of site preparation and support on Build Day. His company even graciously secured cement for us.
Phase III costs is significantly more to replace the back playground because the area is larger and serves more children throughout the day. Within this past year we have received a $3,000 grant from the Green Bay Packers Foundation, $500 from North City Baptist Church in Sun Prairie, a $250 grant from the Northside Fund in addition to many families and community members participating in our ongoing fundraising events. On Nov. 24, 2014 Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation (they have adopted both Gompers and Black Hawk Schools through the Adopt-A-School Program) has donated, $68,000, the final amount of money needed for us to commit to building a playground in May of 2015! In addition to this financial donation, we are excited to share that Vogel Brothers Construction Company has also agreed to partner with us again to provide site preparation and support on Build Day which is a major contribution.
The fourth phase of the project is to install a 1/8 mile fitness track that will run on the uppermost area of the land in the back of the school. This fitness track will consist of nine stationary components spaced out on a hard surface track, where individuals can walk, stretch, and do strength training exercises. This fitness track would be available to the middle school physical education classes, but would primarily serve the members of the community. A play structure is also planned for the area between the garden and the fitness track.
The fifth phase of the project is to update the sports fields located in the back of the field; one soccer field and three baseball fields. These fields are not currentlyused by the schools due to their condition. Repairing them would allow for organized sports in the middle school, activities in physical education classes, as well as for use by the local little league and community leagues for practices and games.
We believe that the accomplishment of all of these phases will encourage school activities to live on beyond the school walls and encourage community members to engage with the school. It is the ultimate goal to create lifelong partnerships that will bring the community members and schools together for the benefit of all individuals in our north side community.
Growing Together Board Members
|Renae Huffman||Chair of Growing Together|
|Renae Huffman||PTO Liaison and Public Relations Coordinator|
|Renae Huffman||Grant Coordinators|
|Jackie Smith||Gompers Elementary School Principal|
|Jamie Sims||Black Hawk Middle School Principal|
|Renae Huffman||Youth and Family Coordinator|
|Sherri Honaker||Publications Coordinator|
Growing Together Honorary Committee Members
|Dr. William Schwab||Professor and Vice Chair Department of Family Medicine UW School of Medicine and Public Health|
|Marjorie Passman||Vice President Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education|
|Melissa Sargent||State Representative 48th Assembly District|