W.J. Turner Elementary School Principal Deborah Baez told students they’d get a new playground if they achieved a certain amount of reading minutes.

“It’s been good seeing it come to fruition because the students had to read to earn their playground,” Baez said. “They would have gotten the playground anyway, but we wanted them to feel like their work was contributing.”

Baez and community volunteers worked for three days to construct a new playground at W.J. Turner Elementary School, 3000 N.W. 26th St. Nonprofits Kaboom! and The Challenge of Tarrant County brought the playground to the school.

Director of Project Management at Kaboom! Ted Friedman, 36, gave directions to volunteers. He told some to flatten piles of dirt, others to mix concrete in wheelbarrows and one to drill holes in the ground for playground signs.

The nonprofit partners with schools and other organizations to design and create play spaces. Friedman joined the nonprofit about 10 years ago.

“The kids’ reactions when they get to see it and when we get to see pictures of the kids playing on it, that’s definitely always a highlight,” Friedman said. “I think the volunteer enthusiasm and power has been one thing that’s really stood out on this project.”

The W.J. Turner Elementary playground is one of three playgrounds Fort Worth ISD is adding to schools. S.S. Dillow Elementary, 4000 Avenue N., begins construction in July, and Western Hills Elementary, 2805 Laredo Drive, starts at the end of June.

W.J. Turner Elementary’s existing playground is potentially dangerous to younger students. The monkey bars and slides are tall, but the new playground will have safer features. 

Students helped design the W.J. Turner Elementary playground through sketches in their art class before summer began. Kaboom! collected the sketches and sent surveys to parents of students who voted on the designs. The nonprofit pitched two blueprints to the school, Baez said.

Students, teachers and parents voted on the final design.

School administration and volunteers will have an official ribbon-cutting ceremony June 9. Future renovations include four mini-golf holes, a pavilion over a 16-foot-by-16-foot cement slab and four picnic tables.

“By getting a second playground, it’s making sure that all of our students have a safe place to play,” Baez said. “It could be a place for the community to just come out and enjoy the playground and have a picnic. They can even throw a little birthday party out here.”

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. David Moreno is a summer fellow reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at david.moreno@forthworthreport.org or via Twitter.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian ArguetaSotoCommunity Engagement Journalist

Cristian is a May 2021 graduate of Texas Christian University. At TCU, ArguetaSoto served as staff photographer at TCU360 and later as its visual editor, overseeing other photojournalists. A Fort Worth...

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David Moreno

David Moreno is a multimedia summer fellow for Fort Worth Report. He is a recent graduate from the University of North Texas with degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. To contact him,...