In the running to fund outdoor fun

So much has been written about apathetic, uninvolved city school parents that it's refreshing to tell the stories of grown-ups fighting to give their children a quality public education in spite of the district's well-documented troubles.

I've previously chronicled Cook-Wissahickon Elementary's plucky parents, who've recruited volunteers and raised money to fund programs the district cannot. They're at it again, competing for one of four $25,000 grants -- or one $50,000 grand prize - from the Clorox Company's "Power a Bright Future" program.

The contest rewards schools seeking ways to give students "more chances to play, create and explore." More than 1,500 schools nationwide are competing to see which can get the most votes and win the cash.

Cook-Wissahickon would use its money to take learning outdoors -- the school sits just two blocks from Fairmount Park -- by enhancing popular running and cycling programs and adding kayaking on nearby Wissahickon Creek.

Many of our students come from families that do not have money to support extra activities. Our goal is to encourage students to get up, get moving and get outside, wrote the nominators. Without program funding, students must provide their own equipment. This precludes many students from participating.

It is heart-wrenching to turn a child away because his bike has no brakes or because she cannot afford running shoes. The grant would allow us to buy equipment for our outdoor clubs: mountain bikes, helmets, elbow and knee pads, and maintenance tools for the cycling club; kayaks, oars and safety vests for the kayak club; and running shoes and reflective vests for our running club. A grant to fund our outdoor clubs will help our students become more fit, learn team work and build self-esteem. Just as important, it will allow our city kids to connect with nature, some for the first time.

Supporters have 45 days to vote for Cook-Wissahickon by clicking here, or texting clorox4297 to 44144.

In the interest of fairness, I should note that 12 other Philadelphia schools are in the running.

-- Monica Yant Kinney


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