April 28, 2017: We celebrated the life of Lucas DiGuilio with a playground in his honor at the Garden Friends Learning Center 3018 Bordertown Avenue Parlin, NJ 08859. The ribbon cutting took place on April 30th. For more about Lucas and his journey visit www.lyricsforlucas.org
September 2016: Hannah Duffy lost her battle with brain cancer in September 2013 at the age of 14. Hannah’s spirit gave a gift of a playground to Tinton Falls that is inclusive to children with Autism and other special needs. This playground was constructed by local volunteers, and is located at Liberty Park on West Park Avenue in Tinton Falls.
May 2016: Celebrating the life of Owen Taraszkiewicz, who lost his life much too young due to complications of a virus in 2013. Owen’s Playground is located at his former preschool, Cambridge Elementary School, in Aberdeen, NJ. We cut the ribbon on a beautiful new playground at the school’s “Fun Day” on Friday, June 3rd, 2016. Children of the school and the community will enjoy a playground accessible for children of all abilities as a gift from Owen and his family for generations to come!
Officer Jay Marles: On August 1, 2015 the Office Jay Marles playground was opened. This playground was built in honor of Jay Marles, an Ocean Gate police officer who was killed by a drunk driver in 2010. The playground is “Jay’s Gift to Ocean Gate” and is located at the corner of Wildwood and East Long Branch avenues.
First Responder Playground: This playground was built in honor of first responders and was opened on May 12, 2015 at Veterans Memorial Park. The playground includes slides, ladders and climbing walls in red, yellow and blue – it also features toy replicas of police cars and fire trucks. With a view of the New York city skyline, a replica of a fire truck is angled toward the Freedom Tower in honor of the work of local first responders after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.
Benjamin Wheeler: The Benjamin Wheeler Playground in Ocean City, New Jersey was opened on May 18th, 2014. Benjamin was a first grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The playground equipment includes drawings from Benjamin. A stone monument bearing the names of his family members is embedded with Legos, his favorite activity. He also loved lighthouses, so a green and blue lighthouse was built by volunteers and is displayed at the playground.
Lauren Rousseau: The Lauren Rousseau playground was built in honor of Lauren Rousseau, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary. This playground was opened on May 11th, 2014 in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. The playground was built in the beach town to recognize Lauren’s love for the beach and water. Lauren always collected “lucky pennies” so there are 26 pennies buried under the sand around the playground.
Avielle Richman: On November 1st, 2013 the Avielle Richman Playground was opened in Belmar, New Jersey in honor of the 6 year old from Sandy Hook, CT. The playground includes some of her favorite things, a piano, fireflies and her artwork.
Daniel Barden: The Daniel Barden Playground ribbon cutting took place on October 27th, 2013 in Highlands, New Jersey. The playground was built in honor of Daniel Barden, a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The blue playground is adorned with drawings and messages from Daniel. Daniel wanted to be a firefighter, which is why a firefighter spring toy is featured at the park.
Chase Kowalski: The Chase Kowalski Playground in Normandy Beach, New Jersey was opened on August 21st, 2013. Chase was a first grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Chase competed in children’s triathlons so his playground includes fun fitness stations. Chase’s playground was the eighth playground built in honor of his baseball number, number 8.
Olivia Engel: On August 2nd, 2013 the ribbon cutting for the Olivia Engel playground took place in Manasquan, New Jersey. Olivia was a six year old student at Sandy Hook Elementary. Olivia loved spending days at the beach, which is why this beachside location was chosen for her playground. The playground also showcases her love for butterflies.
Rachel D’Avino: The ribbon cutting for the Rachel D’Avino Playground took place on August 24th, 2013 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Rachel was a teacher at Sandy Hook. The playground incorporates her love for dragonflies and her passion for working with special needs children.
Jack Pinto: On May 4th, 2013 the Jack Pinto playground was opened in Union Beach, New Jersey. Jack Pinto was a six year old boy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Jack’s love for the New York Giant’s inspired the blue and red playground. The playground also includes his handprint engraved in granite, along with all other handprints of the children of Union Beach.
Ann Marie Murphy: The Ann Marie Murphy Playground was built in Sea Bright, New Jersey in honor of Ann Marie Murphy, a special education teacher, who was tragically lost protecting her students at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The ribbon cutting took place on April 6th, 2013.