A new playground rises at Green Tree School in Northwest Philly [gallery]

On Thursday, volunteers from three organizations and the local community met up at Green Tree School & Services (GTSS) to build a playground for the East Washington Lane school’s estimated 300 students.

Safe Playground Build” construction was slated to start around 7 a.m., with a ribbon-cutting ceremony slated for just after 1 p.m., according to event planners.

Those involved

GTSS CEO Patricia D. Wellenbach thanked sponsors AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership, Keystone First and Midlantic Color Graphics, as well as Anne Morrissey, executive vice president for the AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies “for her vision to bring safe and enjoyable play experiences to so many children throughout greater Philadelphia through this program.”

Added Wellenbach, “Our students needed an outside space in which to play, socialize and grow. They have been watching it being built with great enthusiasm, as has our staff. It is a wonderful complement to our brand new building.”

For her part, AmeriHealth President Maria Pajil Battle noted the importance for such an offering at the school.

“Playgrounds are where children make friends, learn how to play together and take part in the simple joys of sunshine and exercise,” she said. “Children with developmental and behavioral disabilities should also be able to fully enjoy these benefits.”

It was the 12th playground built by Keystone First in Philadelphia since 2007, according to GTSS.

The school

The private school, which moved into its new $16.4 million location in November, provides academic, social skills, life skills and vocational education to children ages 5 to 21 that have Autism or other significant learning, social and emotional challenges.

Eighty-five percent of GTSS’ students live at or below the federally recognized poverty level.

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