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Shiny New Playground Replaces Old One Riddled With Bullet Holes And Dangers At Penn Elementary School In Lawndale

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A story we first brought you back in 2019 has an uplifting update.

In December 2019, the playground outside William Penn Elementary School, at 1616 S. Avers Ave. in North Lawndale, was full of dangers. The slide was even shot up with bullet holes.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Tuesday night, that playground is finally fixed.

A shiny new school playground is something many take for granted – but not at Penn Elementary. The kids were cheering and jumping for joy as the ribbon was cut.

"This is a big deal for us," said Penn Elementary Principal Dr. Sherryl Moore-Ollie.

It's a big deal because until this week, Penn's students were forced to play on equipment riddled with bullet holes and other dangers – for years.

"It warms my heart when as soon as they come out the door, they're running towards the playground," Moore-Ollie said. "We didn't have that. They didn't have anything to run towards."

But it took a fight to get the funding from Chicago Public Schools – which we reported in December 2019.

In that report, Local School Council member Yolanda Williams said, "We should have someplace to feel safe." She and other parents continued to push, with Principal Moore-Ollie's support – and the plan got the green light in the spring.

"When we get something new, it helps the community know that it ain't the end; that out of some bad things, something good will happen," Williams said.

It is powerful symbolism in North Lawndale, where there is a lot of poverty and violence.

"We have to make our communities what we want them to be – and things are not always bright," Moore-Ollie said. "But it is up to us to secure the future for our children."

On a related note, right after our original story coming up on two years ago, a man reached out to Kozlov wanting to donate a playground to the school. He ran into a lot of red tape, but he stayed in touch with the principal.

Dr. Moore-Ollie said that man still donated $35,000 so the school could get Chromebooks and other needed technology.

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