Playground takes shape: Community raises funds, builds 2 new playgrounds for Kealakehe students

  • Volunteers assemble a new playground for students at Kealakehe Elementary School. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • A new playground takes shape at Kealakehe Elementary School. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Soldiers from Pohakuloa Training Area help assemble storage sheds on the first day of the community lead playground build at Kealakehe Elementary School. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • A new playground takes shape at Kealakehe Elementary School. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Kealakehe Elementary School students will have two new playgrounds when they return to school thanks to a grassroots community effort.

The parent-teacher organization began raising money nearly two years ago with a goal of $150,000 to build two structures — one for keiki in kindergarten through second grade and another for third to fifth grade students.

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Having raised the money through fundraising efforts, building started at the start of spring break and was scheduled to be complete on Saturday.

Parent volunteer Jim Dahlberg said credit for the effort goes to principal Nancy Matsukawa and parent teacher organization’s Amber Ah Chin.

“Nancy and Amber did an awesome job getting it done,” said Dahlberg.

Dahlberg also credited David Haeamau and Keoni Paoa, past Kealakehe Elementary School students who could relate to the current inadequate playground equipment, for their volunteer help in grading the areas through RIVCO/Triton Trucking and E.M. Rivera and Sons who provided all of the equipment and labor to prepare the area where the new playgrounds would be built.

“The present Principal Nancy Mastukawa was their math teacher,” said Dahlberg. “David and Keoni graded the two new play grounds, laid the base course and packed them, thus preparing the sites for the new playground equipment under the guidance of Kulike Chong and Genepaul Rivera, owners of Rivco Construction and Herman Rivera owner of HM Rivera Construction. All labor and equipment was done at no cost to the Parent Teachers Organization.”

Dahlberg said students lined the fence during their spring break watching the progress unfold before their eyes.

“They were delighted to see the playground take shape,” he said.

The playground was designed and built by Creative Recreational Systems, a national playground designer that manufactures, distributes and installs commercial recreation equipment..

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With help from the community, the structures were built with the help of community and parent volunteers.

“Many hands make light work,” said Dalhberg.

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