Student ideas incorporated into playground design

By Matthew Bernat | Oct 06, 2016
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Lisa DeShano of Play by Design goes over the new playground with students.

If you ask a group of kids to design their dream playground, you’re going to get a dizzying array of answers.

Sure, slides, swings and seesaws will be suggestions, but Wareham students in grades kindergarten through grade five also wanted to see football fields, climbing walls and even a hot tub.

During school on Thursday, students offered their ideas to representatives from Play by Design, an Ithaca, New York-based business specializing in “community-built” playgrounds.

A community-built playground involves many volunteers who help raise funds, gather materials and then build it over the course of six days in Wareham's case.

The new playground is being spearheaded by a new group, known as the Wareham Community for Outdoor Recreation, to replace the one at Leonard C. Lopes Field in Onset.

DaLiza Cardoza, who is president of the group, said they want to create more recreation opportunities in town, starting with the playground, which was built in 1983 for $50,000 with the help of 1,000 volunteers.

Cardoza, a 2011 graduate of Wareham High School, said the group has an aggressive schedule for building the new playground. She hopes to break ground in October 2017.

On Thursday night, the new design was unveiled before an excited group of kids and parents at Minot Forest Elementary.

“All of you, each and every one of you, are designers, but you’re not only designers, you’re also playground experts,” said Lisa DeShano, of Play by Design.

The new design featured three different areas suitable for kids 2 to 5 years old, 6 to 12 years old and an area for teenagers. A handicap accessible merry-go-round, spring toys, a pirate ship, twisty slide and other fun things were included in the plan.

A mix of public and private funds would be used to pay for the playground. At Town Meeting this month, an agenda item will request $75,000 of Community Preservation Act funds to redesign and rebuild the playground. Fundraisers and private donations will pay for the rest of the cost. There is no estimate on a final cost at this time.

Before Thursday, students submitted drawings of dream playgrounds to Play by Design.

Kaylee Buckland, a student at Decas Elementary, had one ambitious suggestion.

“I really would like to see a really cool slide,” said Kaylee. “One that’s 100 feet high! It’ll take days to slide all the way down.”

While Kaylee did see her twisty slide idea adopted, it was scaled down significantly.

With the design done, Cardoza’s group seeks volunteers to help raise money and then give their time when the playground needs to be built. For more information to volunteer, email Cardoza at:

The new design to replace the current playground at Leonard C. Lopes Field was unveiled on Thursday. (Photo by: Matthew Bernat)
Student suggestions, such as this one by Juliana Statkus, were used to help design the new playground. (Photo by: Matthew Bernat)
Comments (5)
Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Oct 07, 2016 10:00

Is this really necessary? The existing playground has served the community well for 30 years or so. It has had its share of vandalism, but it's built like a tank, and it would be far less costly to just replace the things that have been broken and removed over the years. The new playgrounds do not last this amount of time, and is going to cost WAY more. Even if it's CPC money, that could go to other playgrounds in Town that are totally destroyed or non-existent. This is a total waste of time and effort on the playground in Town that should be the least of our worries. Who thought this new committee's idea is the way we should go? It is so simple to spend a tenth of what we'd spend on a new playground, and just fix what's there.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Oct 07, 2016 10:31

They money for the playground will be fundraised. I think it's a wonderful idea and thank you to DaLiza for her efforts.

The existing playground was outgrown many years ago.

The playground at Decas was built the same way without a penny from the town.


Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Oct 07, 2016 14:57

If you are right Peaches and it will all be fundraiser money, then I double down on my comment to leave what's there alone. The original park cost $50K and all the labor was volunteered, including the Army Corp of Engineers that put in all the pilings. And that was 30 years ago. To get the same type of playground today will be all plastic and won't last 30 years. It will be half the size and frivolous when we already have a sound playground that just need fundraising improvements, NOT REPLACEMENT. Some committee out there is reinventing the wheel, if you can't see that for what it is, I'm sorry but there are 'playgrounds' across Wareham that are totally destroyed that need the help first.

Posted by: totellthetruth | Oct 07, 2016 20:01

Wasn't there a substantial rehab done at Lopes Field within the last 5 years?

Posted by: Whm4now | Oct 07, 2016 22:51

It's hard to realize that the playground was constructed 30years ago! Oh time passes much too quickly.  Although I do believe wood that was used back then was a carcinogen. .And by now the wood must be rough and cause children to get splinters.  I'd hate to see a new playground not be around for another 30 years since this time frame seemed too fast.

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