By Joe Jarosz
September 3, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Play matters.
That was the message last Thursday night as officials from the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association, Kansas City Parks and Recreation, Humana Inc., KaBOOM! and neighborhood residents met to begin discussions on the to design space for the park that will be built in one day.
Recently, the neighborhood association was awarded a KaBOOM! grant. KaBoom! is a national non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all kids get a childhood filled with the balanced and active play needed to thrive. With the grant, the park receives a playground designed by the community, three different pieces of adult workout equipment and a mulch surfacing.
The customized playground will be funded primarily by Humana, a leading health care company, and will be created with input from local community members – from children to seniors – collected during design day. The project is one of more than 50 playgrounds being built by Humana, the Humana Foundation, and KaBOOM! across the U.S. over four years.
“This grant has brought a vision of the playground well beyond our original scope of the project,” Amanda Stinger, chair for the playground committee and board member on the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association board of directors, said.
Courtny Dolan, associate project manager and the KaBoom! representative that will be assisting the Northeast community with the project, said benefits the child, allowing them to stay active mentally, physically and socially. With many children in areas surrounding Kessler Park not having a safe and accessible play spaces, a new playground and multi-generational exercise stations will provide youth with a new age-appropriate play area and local seniors with new opportunities to interact further with each other and the community.
Over the next seven weeks, members of the community will work together with Dolan on the design of the park. Before the adults started discussing designs Thursday night, children were asked to draw their ideal parks. Dolan said the park should be a combination of what everyone wants.
The actual playground build day will begin at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18, at Kessler Park. A ribbon-cutting will be held six hours later, weather permitting. The day will need around 250 volunteers. Dolan said supplies arriving about two days before the build, with volunteers helping with preparation of materials.
“We build no matter what,” Dolan said, except, she added, in severe weather. “The only power tool we use are drills. No other power tools will be used.”
The playground is tentatively designed to be placed where the basketball courts currently stand. The courts will be temporarily removed for the construction. With the current design, two more hoops will be added by the end of the project.
Scott Overbay, project manager for the Parks and Recreation Department, said the roughly 25,000 square foot park will be designed by the neighborhood residents and KaBoom!, the Parks and Recreation Department will only provide support and the occasional information when needed.
“KaBoom! will get their ideas, create three designs and send them back to the neighborhood and us,” Overbay said. “We’ll want the end product to be something we can maintain. We’ll give input for whether or not the design is feasible.”