Building Community

“Nothing can be crueler than a child sometimes, and you bring a special-needs child into a park and the other kids will tease, taunt or make fun of them in some way, hurting them and their parents. You rarely see the special-needs children use the playgrounds. If they see a group of people in a park, they’ll avoid going in. Many times people come in, see seven or eight kids playing, and you watch them get back in the car and leave.”

Once the need was established, the ball began to roll. The city provided land near the township’s justice complex in an already-established park.

The first step was to name the new park, and provide more publicity through the naming process. A flyer was sent through the elementary schools announcing the naming contest. The winner would receive a $100 savings bond, and 1,000 schoolchildren entered. The winning name was Field of Dreams, which would ultimately be airbrushed with clouds and the name by a local sign company.

Though this wasn’t a community build, per se, it was very much dependent on community involvement, input and donations.

The public works department made the fence surrounding the playground and pickets were sold in six-foot sections, with 12 pickets in each section. Each section was priced for sponsorship at $120 and the people’s each organization’s name was routed into the pickets by someone local with a disability that has a woodworking shop.

“Everything is designed to look like regular playground equipment and matches the other playgrounds. One thing that I found that was important to put in the playground was a sandbox, but a child in a wheelchair can’t use a sandbox, so we bought an elevated sandbox,” says Rubio.

“We didn’t go crazy, because we didn’t want to be ostentatious. We figured we’d start off low-key, and by reaching out to the public, the public would realize that it came from the community instead of tax dollars. If we overdid it, we risked a public reaction, which is what we didn’t want. We’d rather have the public say, ‘Why didn’t they do more?’”

Rubio says they plan to add at least one piece per year, with each piece being at least partially donated, with the remainder paid for by additional fundraising, such as engraved bricks.

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Related posts:

  1. Building Playgrounds — Rebuilding Community
  2. Pride And Pirate Ships
  3. Minnesota Playground Honored
  4. A Place By The Same Name
  5. Riverfront Revitalization

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