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Muskegon Heights elementary school has no playground, fighting to get one

Several years ago the former Muskegon Heights School District couldn't pay its bills. And a state emergency manager sold off district belongings including buildings and playground equipment.

The Martin Luther King Elementary Academy in Muskegon Heights is for second to sixth grade students. Those kids love to play at recess. The problems is for years they haven't had anything to play on.

Several years ago the former Muskegon Heights School District couldn't pay its bills. And a state emergency manager sold off district belongings including buildings and playground equipment.

"I was shocked, amazed and hurt," said Vanessa Marble, MLK Elementary Principal. Marble wasn't at the school when district belongings were auctioned off. She believes her students deserve more than the empty field they run around on during recess.

The school is beginning the process of building a playground behind the school. And this week, Marble is taking her students on a playground tour. The students will visit and test playgrounds in the Grand Rapids area and in Grand Haven.

"Kids will have an opportunity to see other equipment and then give us feedback on what they want to see," said Marble. She hopes to transform the empty field behind their school into an impressive playground.

"I want swings and a merry-go-round and a slide," said student Camiya Crawford. Students at the school are already dreaming about what they would like to see built. "Monkey bars right here, swings right here," said student Durrell Foster.

School leaders at the Muskegon Heights Academy aren't sure how to pay for new playground equipment. The district does have a small savings account that may cover some of the expense. School leaders are also searching for grants to make their dream a reality.

"These kids need an opportunity like all other kids to enjoy equipment," said Marble. "Safe equipment in an environment that's safe for them."

"We can still have fun, but it would be better with a playground," said Crawford.

Students will tour area playgrounds Thursday. The school hopes to build a new playground this summer.

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