Peabody playground the result of parent-powered effort

An anonymous donation provided the money for the new 50-by-20-foot basketball court, replacing two worn-out goals on an eneven surface, said incoming PTA president Chris Kelly (right). Photo by David Royer.

By David Royer

When Peabody Elementary’s first school bell of the year rings at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 6, students should be ready to learn and ready for some serious play time, too.

Six Peabody dads and neighbors volunteered their time on a drizzly morning July 15 to ready the playground for a host of improvements that will greet students when they return.

The most noticeable change outside the school building will be the installation of the shade structure, a giant, multicolored fabric sail that will cover the playground some 12 feet above students’ heads.

The purple and green design looked like it fit the spirit of Cooper-Young, said incoming PTA president Chris Kelly. But more than simply decoration, the structure will make the playground useable for the entire community throughout the sweltering Memphis summers.

“It cuts at least 90 percent of UV rays, and it’ll reduce the playground temperature by 20 degrees,” Kelly said.

Former PTA president Mandy Grisham announced last year that the school had received a $25,000 private grant to pay for the new playground shade. Installation is set to be complete by the end of July. The improvements follow several playground upgrades over the past few years.

This year, sports will get a boost on the playground, too.

A new 50-foot blacktop basketball court with a 10-foot and and 8-foot goal will fill the playground’s northwest corner along Oliver Street, replacing a worn-out goal now set on an uneven surface. The improvement is the result of an anonymous $10,000 donation.

Another parent will sponsor two new soccer goals for the playground, Kelly said.

Peabody was one of four Memphis schools honored this year by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a foundation that seeks to curb the epidemic of childhood obesity, for the school’s commitment to creating a healthier environment.

Volunteer Robert Grisham, taking a short break from shoveling out the footings for a playground bench moved to make way for the basketball court, said he hoped the parent-powered improvements at Peabody Elementary would serve as an example for other Memphis neighborhood schools, showing them what could be accomplished through the dedicated efforts of parents and neighbors.

“This is just giving us an example of what happens when school, parents, everybody comes together,” Grisham said. “This just shows we can bring betterment to our schools and, as a result, our neighborhood.”

Is your child ready for school this year?

Registration is 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 6-8 p.m., July 31. Registration for after-care is also July 31. Stay current with dates, checklists and school news at



Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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