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Volunteers build entire playground in day in north Springfield

The Fulbright Springs housing development playground is the effort of several organizations.

June 23, 2011|by Jay Scherder, KY3 News | jscherder@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Volunteers from Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Sustainable Housing Solutions and Community Partnership of the Ozarks, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the Springfield community will joined forces on June 23 to build a new playground at the Fulbright Springs housing development.

The new playground’s design is based on drawings created by children who participated in a Design Day event in April. The new playground will provide hundreds of children in the neighborhood with a safe place to play.

Currently, the children living in Fulbright Springs and the surrounding neighborhood do not have a playground within walking distance to enjoy.

"I've been working in the mulch," said Baptist Bible College Freshman Savannah Graeff.

"The swings," Missouri State University Senior Nikke Fontana explained, "I helped build all that together."

"We have seniors out here volunteering and we have three year olds trying their best to do help," said Melissa Haddow with Community Partnership of the Ozarks.

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Volunteers were in every direction at the Fulbright Springs Affordable Housing Development in North Springfield. "It's pretty hardcore," Nikki said, "I'm filthy but it's a good time." The volunteers started at 8:00 am with a goal to finish the playground at 3:00 pm.

"You know, I've never been able to be a part of the community, so I decided I'm going to come out here and help build a playground for these little kids," Savannah said. "A bunch of different things they can play on," Nikki said, "It's going to be great."

The playground is part of a bigger project--to provide a safe, affordable area for low income families.  Julie Kilmer and her son are one of those families. "My son is only three, Julie said, "so for years to come he'll be able to have a place to go across the street to play."

"Just seeing the look on their face when they walk out and see the brand new playground," Savannah said, "that's what is really inspiring to me."

Many different groups rolled up their sleeves to help including students from Missouri State who had an interesting choice on whether or not to come volunteer. "[They had] a choice between this and another assignment," laughed Missouri State University Associate Professor Joanna Cemore-Brigden, "so I think they liked that." "She didn't tell you what the other assignment was," Nikki said, a 10 page paper! So of course everyone was like 'absolutely, let's volunteer!'"

It was a day without pens and paper but plenty of shovels, drills, and noise. It was all so children in the area would have a place to play. "It's wonderful and heartwarming and I'm grateful for everyone's efforts here," Julie said.

In addition to the community-built playground, the new play area will also include Imagination Playground in a Box – a breakthrough playspace concept designed by architect David Rockwell to encourage child-directed, unstructured free play. Via manipulable loose parts and natural elements like sand and water, Imagination Playground in a Box allows children to constantly change their environment and design their own course of play.

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