Harlem Coming Together To Help Girl Injured By Uprooted Tree

Photo of emergency vehicles at North Harlem Elementary School.
Photo of emergency vehicles at North Harlem Elementary School.

Harlem, GA (WJBF) – The community of Harlem, Georgia is coming together to rally behind and help a 4th grade North Harlem Elementary School student who was injured this past Wednesday when a tree uprooted on the school’s playground during recess and fell on her and some other students.

Two other students were taken to a local hospital, but they are expected to be okay.

Photo of a tree that uprooted at North Harlem Elementary School on Wednesday, February 24, 2016.
Photo of a tree that uprooted at North Harlem Elementary School on Wednesday, February 24, 2016.

At last check, the girl was in serious condition. The community is rallying behind the girl, as well as her family, and the teachers and students who were there at the incident scene.

The school’s principal, Kirk Wright, sent out the following message to parents after the incident about the playground and what is being done to make it safer:

Dear Parents,

I wanted to take a moment to provide everyone with an update on the status of our playground. This past week on the playground, we experienced an act of nature unlike any other when one of our large pine trees was uprooted. As such, we are working diligently and taking the time necessary to assess the trees on the playground and ensure safety for all.

In the coming days, an arborist will be on our campus to consult with our Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations department and provide expert assistance in the inspection of all trees on our playground. The goal will be to determine which trees, if any, need immediate removal. Once these trees are identified, they will be removed prior to any children re-entering the playground area. Additionally, a broken slab of our concrete basketball court will be replaced, and a damaged swing set will be removed. It is difficult to estimate how long all this work will take, but we will take the time to get it done correctly. As the work gets underway, I will keep the community posted on our progress.

Once the work is completed and the playground is deemed safe for students, I will be conducting a survey with our parent community to determine whether you would prefer that all trees are eventually removed from the playground. Once input is received, we’ll make a collaborative decision moving forward. The immediate goal is to repair the damage on the playground, remove any trees that must be taken down, and make sure the area is safe for our students and staff.

Next week, I will be working with our staff and our friends at Harlem Middle School to determine what other areas might be available for our outdoor recess activities. We may have to spend a few sunny days indoors in the coming weeks, but we will take the time necessary to meet our goal of making sure the playground is safe.

Donations are being taken to help the girl and her family during her recovery, as well.

Wright also sent out this message this week about how the community can help and thanking the community for its help and support:

Dear Parents,

North Harlem is in the process of collecting donations for the family of our student who remains hospitalized from injuries she suffered this past week. The family is in need of gift cards for Subway and McDonald’s, two restaurants located on the campus of the Children’s Medical Center, where the child is being treated. Additionally, the family is in need of gas cards to help with the travel between Harlem to Augusta.  Kroger cards would be ideal, so that they could also purchase food for the family.  Cash donations are certainly appropriate as well. If you would like to donate any of these items, please bring them to the school, and we will deliver them to the family. Our staff visits the family daily, and I know they will appreciate any support our community can provide.

The outpouring of concern and kindness for our staff and students this week has been inspirational. Countless people have reached out with a desire to help.  On behalf of the entire NHE staff, I want to thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and support.

We will continue to follow this story and provide the latest information as it becomes available.

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