a playground at last

Three little girls sat on a bench yesterday evening pointing at each new piece of playground equipment. “I’m going to play on that one, and I’m going to play on that one, and I’m going to play on that one.” As concrete footings were drying volunteers had to remind neighborhood kids that the playground wouldn’t be open until this morning.

Through the many surveys conducted in Baptist Town over the past ten years, residents have consistently emphasized the need for activities for children, specifically a playground. Despite this, when I began my job in January, no funding for a playground was in place. That changed when I met Cyndi Long from a local office of GE Capital Aviation Services. We began to work together, and she supported our grant application to the GE Volunteer Foundation. Cyndi and her co-workers were flexible and creative, and joined us in leading a kid’s only community meeting in April to brainstorm with neighborhood kids what they most wanted in the playground. As a result, we won a grant from the GE Volunteer Foundation for $4,000, and the local GECAS branch sponsored approximately $3,500 in play equipment and supplies. A crew of GE volunteers to construct the park was also a part of the grant award.

8 AM from south

Yesterday, twenty-eight volunteers from GECAS, including Greenwood residents and many who drove down from Memphis, brought to life what had previously only existed on paper. Starting with swings and bouncers on a grassy site in the morning, the group wrapped up the day with a completed playground by evening. When I visited the site this morning, the three little girls were true to their word – playing on every piece of equipment we had installed. In the short time I visited today, a dozen kids jumped, slid, climbed and see sawed. I know this demographic is enjoying the result of this project, but the realization of something so long asked for seems important to the community as a whole. “Hopeful” is a word I have heard a lot in regard to the playground project. I am honored to be a part of something hopeful, and am looking forward to GOODat day on Saturday where we continue to celebrate the people of Baptist Town of all ages.

I am grateful to so many people for realizing this playground. As I continue to work in the field of social impact design, each project demonstrates that nothing is completed by an individual, but is the product of many collaborators. Obviously, GE and Cyndi played huge roles, but whether you drove a truck, lent a wheelbarrow, lent a hand, wrote about the day, or enjoy hanging up-side-down from the monkeybars: thank you, this would not have happened without you.

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