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SHS students raising money for handicapped play equipment

Somerset High School students Taylor Sporleder and Danielle Flandrick stand in front of the Somerset Elementary School playground where the pair hope to soon add more handicap accessible equipment as part of their school project. Submitted photo

When their first idea to help children in the hospital fell through, Somerset High School students Taylor Sporleder and Danielle Flandrick had to think quickly to find a new project idea that still allowed them to help children in their school district.

"We thought about the children we could impact in our school district and made the realization that the playground had not changed since our years of going to school there, or even at all," Sporleder said. "We had noticed there was no way a child in a wheelchair could interact with the rest of their peers with the equipment supplied. Our project is to earn enough money to buy equipment that is used for handicapped children to be active on the playground as well as the other kids."

The pair have been fundraising to raise money for their project — which will include handicapped accessible playground equipment, including swings and motion boards — for more than a month by holding silent auctions and meat raffles at General Sam's in Somerset.

"General Sam's has been a huge help for us when it comes to our project, they've been very generous to us and we can't thank them enough. The owner of the Deer Locker in Deer Park (Jason Ellingson) donated a quarter of beef to us that we raffled off," Flandrick said. "As well as the owner of Somerset Collison (Gary Poulin), who donated four Vikings tickets that we are in the process of raffling off right now."

The next silent auction and meat raffle will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, at General Sam's.

According to Flandrick, the project will take a lot of collaboration between Sporleder and herself, as well as with the school district in order to get everything squared away so the project can proceed once the funds are raised.

"It's been hard work being fully committed to this goal when we're also full time students, athletes and have jobs," Flandrick said. "Both Taylor and I have visited businesses around town to help with construction but we need to make sure that everything meets the requirements of the company who originally built the playground because of liability issues. Right now we're still in the stages of finding someone who would be willing to donate time and/or materials to put towards the ramps, concrete work, and installation of the new equipment that needs to be put in."

Those interested in making a donation or contacting Sporleder and Flandrick can send an email to daniflandrick@gmail.com.

"A child that age needs to have the time to play outside and let off some energy between classes, especially since the workload has grown in the past few years," Sporleder said. "The second reason we chose the elementary school is that a child develops their interaction skills at a young age and if we isolate them from playing on the playground with their classmates then they will never learn how to make friends when they are older and their social skills won't develop."

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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