Playgrounds dedicated to Newtown victims to be built in towns affected by Sandy

In a heartwarming effort to honor those affected by two different tragedies, New Jersey's largest firefighter union is building 26 playgrounds--one for each of the victims of December's Sandy Hook shooting--in communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The project, entitled Sandy Hook: Where Angels Play, will give New Jersey and New York 10 playgrounds each and Connecticut, six. The playgrounds are meant to serve not only as memorials, but also as reminders of hope and recovery for the communities. Isn't that an incredible idea?!


According to Bill Lavin, the president of the firefighter union behind the effort, each playground will reflect the personality of the child or teacher that it's named after. For example, the playground dedicated to 6-year-old New York Giants fan, Jack Pinto, will be football-themed. That of his classmate, Grace McDonald, will be decorated with peace signs, her favorite symbol to draw. Others will incorporate similar details, such as their honoree's favorite color or activity.

The project will cost about $2.1 million. Enough donations to fund six playgrounds have been received so far. The first playground, to go up in Sea Bright, New Jersey, will be dedicated to special-ed teacher Ann Marie Murphy and will feature a climbing-wall and slides handpicked by some of the children in town. Construction will begin March 1st.

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I absolutely love the concept of this project. As someone whose hometown was one of the many devastated by Sandy, I can honestly say that one of the things that broke my heart the most in the aftermath of the storm was seeing the playground that I grew up on shattered to pieces. This effort will not only help revive communities like mine that have lost beloved parts of their town, but also commemorate one the greatest tragedies to ever hit this nation in a sweet and meaningful manner. I can think of no better way to pay tribute to a group of beautiful young kids and the adults who dedicated their lives to them.

Once completed, I have no doubt that these personalized playgrounds will serve as a source of comfort and hope to those affected by both ordeals. I can't wait to see how they turn out!

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: hurricane sandy  latest news  newtown