New “Sandy Ground” playground opens in Belmar

Published on Friday, November 15, 2013

Belmar Sandy Ground playground opening 
From left: NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan addresses residents of Belmar as NJFMBA President Bill receives a $10,000 contribution from Belmar EA Co-Presidents Siobhan Ryan and Amy Skelton to help fund the new playground.

The Belmar Education Association played a big role in the opening of the Sandy Ground Playground in its community.

The Belmar playground is the 12th of 26 playgrounds that will be constructed in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut coastal communities hit by Hurricane Sandy. Each playground is named for one of the victims of the massacre in Newtown, Conn. last December.

NJEA has partnered with the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association Foundation (NJFMBA) to provide funds for the playgrounds. BEA Co-Presidents Siobhan Ryan and Amy Skelton presented NJFMBA President Bill Lavin with a $10,000 check from NJEA and its members for the playgrounds. One of a series of such contributions NJEA has made to the Sandy Ground project since it was launched last year.

Avielle Richman remembered

The Belmar playground honors the life of Avielle Richman who was six years old when she died. Born in San Diego, her parents, Jeremy Richman and Jeffifer Hensel, called her the “California Girl” because it was difficult to keep a young lady used to running barefoot in beach sand wearing shoes in frosty New England. Avielle loved horses and Harry Potter. Her favorite color was red.

Nearly every member of the BEA was on hand to celebrate the playground’s opening on Nov. 1. With funding from the NJEA PRIDE in Public Education program, BEA promoted the opening ceremony and served refreshments at the event. PRIDE funding also paid for a banner permanently overlooking the playground to commemorate the association’s role in helping build it.

“The attendance with the townspeople that night was just incredible, and everyone from the superintendent to the mayor praised the work of the Belmar Education Association,” said NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan.

Belmar Sandy Ground playground opening 
From left: NJEA UniServ field rep Tom Predale, NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan, and Belmar EA Co-Presidents Amy Skelton and Siobhan Ryan greeted members and the community at the opening ceremony for Belmar Sandy Ground playground.
“Pennies for Play”

The estimated cost for each playground is approximately $80,000 to $90,000.

NJEA is working with NJFMBA so that members and their students can easily participate in raising funds to build the playgrounds. “Pennies for Play” is a way for all children in New Jersey to make a difference for girls and boys who saw their lives transformed by Hurricane Sandy.

See this flier for more information on “Pennies for Play."

To learn more visit The Sandy Ground Project: Where Angels Play. The project also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

NJEA MEMBERS: Here’s how you can use the PRIDE program to organize your members and community to help build The Sandy Ground playgrounds.

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