Democracy in Action: PS 124 Welcomes New Bathrooms

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124 Bathroom Ribbon Cutting

PS 124 and City Councilmember Brad Lander, officially cut the ribbon on the South Slope elementary school’s long awaited bathroom renovations this morning.

As the top vote getter from Councilmember Lander’s first ever Participatory Budgeting initiative last year, the school received the needed $150,000 to renovate their severely dilapidated kindergarten and first grade bathrooms, which had stalls without doors, damaged tile floors, and fixtures that were out of reach for young children.

Sanira

“The kids used to be scared of going into the bathroom, because it had no doors, and the other girls could see,” said 3rd Grader, Sanira Walser (with a little help from  her mom, Loretta). “Thank God the bathroom is fixed.”

“The first time the kids saw them,” said kindergarten teacher, Liz Bradstreet, “they came back into the room, and said, ‘They’re bright, and everything is clean, and they’re little like us.’”

“They’re very excited,” she added. “They have not abused any part of it. They want to keep it nice. They know that it’s theirs now, and they take a lot of ownership in that, and as long as we give them something nice, they’re going to work hard to keep it that way.”

“This idea of shared stewardship of our public realm connects a lot of things,” said Councilman Lander. “It’s as simple as when kindergarteners feel respected, and see themselves respected, they show it back. That’s sort of what participatory budgeting is about for the whole community, when we’ve got a chance to weigh in and take care of things.”

The next round of participatory budgeting is already in full swing, and state agencies are currently reviewing submitted projects to see which ones are feasible, and how much they would cost. Councilman Lander’s office says that the public will be voting on 2013 projects in the next couple of months.

The smiles we spotted this morning leave no doubt that the right project was funded. Congratulations, P.S. 124.

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