Watkins Elementary Playground Project – Southern Farm Bureau, Eaton, Junior League of Greater Jackson, Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, Home Depot, Entergy and others

Watkins Elementary School is a member of the Jackson Public School District that serves a student population of over 400 children. Of that, 96% come from low-income families. In 2007, due to the age of our playground equipment an liability concerns, our old playground equipment had to be removed. Unfornately JPS did not have the funds available to replace the equipment. Therefore, it became the responsibility of the PTA. Since then, the school has been raising funds to purchase new equipment and renovate the playground area. The project has been broken into several phases to address the immediate need.

Phase I (2009) Sponsored by Lowe’s, Southern Farm Bureau, The Hinds County Bar Association, The Clarion-Ledger and others, this phase was completed in August 2009 and included approximately $40,000 of equipment appropriate for the general school population.

Phase II (2010) Sponsored by Southern Farm Bureau, with major contributions from Eaton and Entergy, this phase included approximately $16,000 of additional equipment designed specifically for PreK and K. Phase II was completed in July 2010.

Phase III (2011) Sponsored by Southern Farm Bureau with major contributions from Junior League of Jackson ($5,000), the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson ($5,000), Entergy ($1,000) and Home Depot ($2,500), this phase includes resurfacing blacktop areas, purchasing and applying game stencils to the blacktop, relining the basketball court, landscaping, adding new equipment, replacing old equipment and adding a shade canopy to the PreK/K play area. With $13,400 raised by the spring, the estimated cost to complete this phase is $12,000.

Phase IV (2011-12) Project Fit America – This will include curriculum materials, training and installing cardiovascular workstations and exercise equipment. Cost: $26,000. Watkins applied for this grant in fall 2010. If selected the equipment will be installed during the summer, with training taking place in fall 2011. If not we will reapply in fall 2011 for installation in 2012.

Duration of partnerships: 25 years (Southern Farm Bureau)
27 volunteers
Impacts 375+ students

Activities: Project sponsored by Watkins Elementary PTA; school adopter Southern Farm Bureau provides all promotional materials. Phase II was built in July 2010 with donations from Eaton, Entergy, Home Depot and others. Parents, students, faculty and volunteers from Eaton, Entergy and JA Dawson supported effort.  Junior League of Jackson donated $5,000 to jumpstart Phase III followed by additional $5,000 from Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, $2,500 from Home Depot and $1,000 from Entergy. Additional sponsors followed. Phase III is projected to be completed by 2011 school year and will include installation of shade canopy, new basketball goals, swing set for pre-K and kindergarten and resurfacing blacktop areas. Other activities provided by Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi include Fuel Up to Play Challenge, taste test events, Breakfast with a Hero, Milk Mustache Day. Executive Women International hosted annual Reading Rally at Watkins to promote literacy, healthy lifestyles. Most recently Watkins received a $1,000 grant from Mississippi Recycling Coalition. 

Results: Over $70,000 raised to-date. Partnerships continue to develop for Phase II and III. Increased PTA involvement and activity. Watkins now ranked a Top 10 JPS Elementary School and top 20% statewide out of 820 schools ranked by MDE. One of few public schools in state to receive GreatSchools Rating of 8 out of 10. Recipient of 2010 Allstate Helping Hands Outstanding Partnership Award. Helped launch recycling pilot program.