New playground equipment helps underprivileged children


SARASOTA – If you’re planning on going to the Grand Prix, you’re doing more than just watching boats race. You’re helping low-income families.

Tania Ulloa’s daughters play on the new playground equipment at Children First.

“When I came and I saw this I was so happy and so excited to know that they have this new adjustment to the playground,” Ulloa said,  “so now I know that more kids are gonna get better on the motor skills.”

Just like her youngest daughter did.

“[The playground] has been very helpful, especially for my little one because the motor skills are getting better now,” Ulloa said. “She’s going on her little tricycle in the park.”

Suncoast Charities for Children partnered with the Grand Prix festival to donate playground equipment to Children First, which provides care programs to underprivileged children and their families.

Philip Tavill, President & CEO

“Any time we get something new like that, the parents are excited because they see that their kids just love the playground so much,” Children First President and CEO, Philip Tavill, said. “Playing is actually learning, and when the kids are out on it, they’re learning about sharing, social growth and emotional growth, and it’s just a very generous gesture that’s helped us an awful lot.”

17% of the Children First families have teen parents, and 14% are homeless, making the families that much more appreciative.

“I feel so happy this happened to us, like to my family,” Ulloa said.

“We partner with our parents because really, they’re their child’s first teacher,” Tavill said.

Some would just consider this recess, but to Tavill, it has a deeper meaning.

“There are people in Sarasota who have spectacular views of the beach and golf courses and wetlands, but my office looks out on this playground, and it’s the best view in Sarasota,” he said. “I see kids running and jumping and pushing each other on the swings and it’s spectacular.”

Suncoast Charities for Children and Grand Prix have also contributed resources to Children First’s Venice location.

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Hallie Peilet
Hallie Peilet is an Indiana University graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism, and a minor in music. She has had experience in several media outlets. Previously, she interned for WCIU-TV in Chicago, learning about production and live reporting. During her senior year at IU, she worked as a reporter and anchor for her campus news station, and as a multimedia journalist for WTIU/WFIU, the PBS/NPR affiliate in Bloomington. She grew up just outside of Chicago in Munster, Indiana, and in her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, discovering new music, and watching Chicago sports. If you have an idea for a story, e-mail her at