School News Editor

Great Falls Principal Becky Fortier and Gorham resident Travis Bush, also the Lead Pastor of South Coast Community Church in Scarborough, recently identified a need in the Gorham community…handicap accessible and inclusive playground equipment for elementary children.

Bush was instrumental in making sure that need, along with other needs within the community, were met by bringing Gorham church and community members together for one day that was dubbed ‘We Love Gorham Day.’

“I have been part of the Gorham community for 48 years and have never seen anything like this,” said Facilities Director Norm Justice. “We could not have asked for a better day all the way around. It was overwhelming in the best way.”

On June 17, handicap accessible and inclusive playground equipment was installed at each of the three elementary schools, made possible by a service project grant given by Bush’s colleague, Tom Thompson, from a sister church in Alabama.

With 4,000 members, the Alabama sister church is a very outwardly-focused church and typically does one annual service project stateside and one annual service project overseas.

The church brought volunteers for this day to help the communities of Gorham, Portland, and Lewiston. The goal for Gorham, according to Fortier, was bringing all children, despite disabilities, together to play.

With the input of Special Education Director Kathy Hamblen, Justice, and the three elementary principals, the group decided on a zip line and a sand pit at each of the schools. A third phase in the future will include the installation of sensory boards with spinners, textures, a tic tac toe game, and incorporate more color and music.

Over 100 Alabama volunteers joined by over 300 Gorham community members wore “Loving is Serving” shirts as they worked side by side.

Volunteers were able to complete the installation of all playground equipment at the three elementary schools. The pea gravel at Village School was replaced with mulch. The gazebo in front of the Library was painted. Work was begun at the Old Robie School and will be completed over the summer. Work was completed at the Arts Alliance building, and volunteers helped at a local farm as well as several individual homes.

The hope is to make this day an annual event with We Love Gorham Day becoming a non-profit, focusing on a service project benefiting Gorham and its community members each year.

“The organization of the day was awesome,” said Bush. “The involvement from the community was incredible. I think one thing we would like to see in the future is to offer ourselves to more individual projects in the community. We are very excited about the energy that this created for our community and we are excited about future opportunities like this to get people together to love and care for each other,” he added.

Photo credit Andrea Morrell, Betsy Nygren, Travis Bush and Leslie Dupuis

Gorham community members, along with local churches, and volunteers from Alabama, worked together to help residents in need as well as install handicap accessible and inclusive playground equipment at the three elementary schools.