COLONIE – In spring 2021, the South Colonie Central School District announced plans for the construction of an additional playground to be built on the Saddlewood Elementary campus. The project, called Charlie’s Playground, was to be built in honor of former Saddlewood student Charlie Fernandez. Fernandez was a first-grade student at Saddlewood Elementary who sadly lost her courageous battle with neuroblastoma in April of 2021.
“Annually, students participating in the CCHS iCare program select a charity at the beginning of the year to support,” Colonie High School Associate Principal Brian Scalzo said. “In addition to another important cause, our students felt personally connected to Charlie’s story and wanted to help raise funds to help with the build of the playground.”
A collaboration of the Fernandez family, the national foundation Where Angels Play and other area organizations provided support to build the new all-abilities playground on the grounds of South Colonie’s Saddlewood Elementary School. It will feature areas for children with visual impairments.
As part of the collective efforts, CCHS iCare students hosted a special staff vs. student basketball game fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 4 at Colonie Central High School MUG. All proceeds went to support the project.
“We are excited to have the community come out and support a great cause while also having some fun cheering on the students,” CCHS icare Co-presidents Emily Terry and Ella Irons said in a statement.
“Charlie meant so much to our school community and her family wanted to create something special in her honor but also have it benefit the Saddlewood Elementary students and our community at large,” South Colonie Superintendent Dr. David Perry said. “This is a perfect example of the kindness and consideration we receive after establishing these deep connections with our students and families. We are proud that iCare is partnering with us and Charlie’s family on this special project.”
The playground, expected to be completed by fall of 2023, will be led by the Where Angels Play Foundation, with oversight by the South Colonie Central School District and the Fernandez family. Over the years, the Where Angels Play Foundation has worked with families across the northeast to establish playground areas like the one proposed, most notably in honor of students and staff impacted by the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
Photos by Emmali Lanfear. You can see more of her work on her instagram page @photos_by_emmali_
To view the gallery click on a photo below and swipe/click through the rest. If viewing this on a news app click here to open the photos.