By Jeff Todd


ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – Several other students thought the project would be too daunting, so Andrew Ellis did the work himself to get North Arvada Middle School its first-ever playground.

(credit: CBS)

“Just had an idea and why not get a park for my school. What motivated me was just, so kids have more to do during recess. I just wanted it so people would have fun on it,” Ellis said about an obstacle course and swing set.

(credit: CBS)

He worked with his teacher in a 7th grade elective class. They applied for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant to get a new playground. The process took months. They started working on the grant in October, submitted it in January and were awarded the grant in March. Construction wrapped up on the $180,000 play area right before the school year started this month.

CBS4’s Jeff Todd tries out the course with Andrew Ellis. (credit: CBS)

“Applying for a grant is something that’s really hard for adults to do and he was just 12 when he did it, which is just amazing,” said Erin Fichtel, Ellis’s teacher last year. “I think he got discouraged. I got discouraged. It was just so much work. And we thought can we even get this together?”

Todd interviews Erin Fichtel. (credit: CBS)

The North Arvada principal says she’s already seen students communicate better and the obstacle course is exercising their bodies and minds.

“It’s really important to connect school and community together. It’s not always easy to do so, so this is a really awesome opportunity,” said Fichtel.

(credit: CBS)

“I find it cool that the people appreciate it overall,” Ellis said.

He’s taking the hard lesson he learned and applying it to other hurdles in his life.

“If I really wanted something that I can always do it if I put enough time and effort into it and achieve my goals,” Ellis said.

Jeff Todd

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