Park Slope School Celebrates Shiny New Bathrooms with Ribbon Cutting

By Leslie Albrecht on January 24, 2013 2:25pm 

PARK SLOPE — Kids at P.S. 124 are flush with excitement.

After years of dealing with grungy bathrooms, the school cut the ribbon Thursday on a set of shiny new commodes for its kindergartners.

The bathrooms got their long overdue makeover as part of City Councilman Brad Lander's participatory budgeting program, where local residents get to choose how government dollars are spent in their neighborhood.

Close to 1,000 people in Lander's district voted to fix up the dilapidated bathrooms, some of which were missing doors on their stalls, forcing kids to avoid relieving themselves for the entire school day.

"The kids used to be scared to go in the bathroom because it had no doors and the other girls could see them, but thank God the bathroom is fixed," 8-year-old Sanira Walser said in a statement read by her mother after Sanira was overcome with stage fright at the ribbon cutting.

Kindergarten teacher Elizabeth Bradstreet said her students were overjoyed when they first saw the pristine toilets. "They came back to the room and they said, 'Ms. Bradstreet, they're bright, and everything is clean, and they're little, like us,'" Bradstreet said. Some of the toilets and urinals in the old bathrooms were adult sized.

Beaming P.S. 124 Principal Annabell Martinez said the new bathrooms would send a positive message to students at the 112-year-old school on Fourth Avenue and 14th Street, which received an A on its most recent school progress report.

"[Kids] have to be in a building that's also a wonderful building where they feel valued, where they feel respected, and now we can say that these bathrooms show that," Martinez said.

P.S. 124's $150,000 bathroom renovation marked the first participatory budgeting project to be completed in New York City, where eight City Council members now use the new budgeting method.

"This is not just a celebration of some new bathrooms...it really is a celebration of dignity and respect of our school kids and of grassroots democracy in our community," Lander said.

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