Thanks to a $500,000 gift from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, five Catholic elementary schools in Northwest Indiana are slated to receive new playgrounds.
The Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana project, in partnership with Kidstuff Playsystems, provided playgrounds to schools that did not already have them. Four of the five playgrounds are complete, including at St. Casimir School in Hammond, St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Whiting, St. John Bosco Catholic School in Hammond and St. Stanislaus School in East Chicago. The fifth and final playground at Aquinas Catholic Community School in Merrillville should be completed this fall.
“The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation is committed to improving the well-being of families in Indiana, and Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana is the perfect partner in pursuing this goal,” said Bill Hanna, executive director of the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, in a press release. “It’s extremely exciting to see the playgrounds built and ready in time to be enjoyed by elementary school students this school year.”
Gary-based Kidstuff Playsystems offered to let each school choose the best system for their students, then designed, built and installed them.
“It’s uplifting to see local organizations come together to make a meaningful, special impact on the community,” said Dan Kozlowski, managing director of Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana. “Especially a project that helps improve the quality of life for our children. These playgrounds are of extremely high quality and will provide a much needed space for students to enjoy a healthy balance of academic learning and playtime.”
Students and staff are excited too.
“Back to school is always an exciting time for our kids and community,” said Nancy Repay, principal of St. John Bosco Catholic School in Hammond. “This year, there’s a little extra buzz of excitement as the kids are eager to play on the new playground. I know our whole school community is extremely grateful and overjoyed that our kids now have a playground to exercise, play and develop their social skills.”
Chicago-based Big Shoulders Fund was founded by a group of business and civic leaders in 1986, raising more than $450 million since then. In 2019, Bruce White, founder and chairman of Merrillville-based White Lodging, and his wife, Beth, donated funds to extend the nonprofit's reach into Northwest Indiana.
Caption: St. John Bosco Catholic School in Hammond received a new playground through a Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana project. (Provided by Big Shoulders Fund)