Playground takes shape with effort of volunteers

Published 6:00 am Thursday, April 4, 2002

What was just a grassy field Tuesday is now taking on the shapeof a fun place for children.

“We’re building a little city that’s geared toward children,”said Barry Segal, site consultant for Kids Kingdom playground beingconstructed this week.

Preparation on the 10-acre park began Tuesday with the drillingof holes for posts to support the large playground structures, butprogress became obvious Wednesday.

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Over 160 volunteers showed up to work the first day ofconstruction, which is expected to last through Sunday.

“We got a lot done. It’s starting to take shape, and you cankind of see a little bit of what the playground is going to looklike,” Kids Kingdom co-chair Don Doty as he surveyed the areaWednesday evening.

Doty said the progress was almost on target with the tightschedule that must be kept to complete the project by Sunday’s 5p.m. dedication ceremony.

“We’re running a little bit behind. We had about 80 percent ofthe people we needed, but everyone really worked hard, so weaccomplished a lot,” he said. “We need more volunteers to helpcatch up on the work.”

Volunteer Chairman Amy Rhoads said that at least 200 people areneeded each day to stay on schedule.

While calling members of the community, Rhoads said many peoplethought they could only work during certain times.

“They don’t have to wait until shifts start. They can come atany time and work for as long as they like, whether it’s an hour orall day long,” said Rhoads.

Volunteers are not required to have any type skill. People areneeded to sit at the volunteer sign-in booth, pass out tools orother non-strenuous work.

“We got most of the hard work out of the way, and now we’restarting the more fun work,” said Doty.

The diversity of the volunteers Wednesday showed how people ofall ages and backgrounds can contribute to the project, which willbenefit local children for decades to come.

Some of the youngest volunteers were 8th graders from AlexanderJunior High School. The Quest class has participated in planningand fundraisers since the beginning of Kids Kingdom efforts.

“Since they’ve been working on the project, the school let ushave the day off to work,” said teacher Linda Kergosien of the 36students who worked from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday.

After a day of hard work and fun, many of the students plan tocome back during the week with parents, churches and other schoolgroups.

Kergosien noted that the children were probably tired afterworking so diligently on the project, but every one of them had asmile on their face as they left the site.

“Someone may think they’re doing something for Kids Kingdom whenthey’re actually doing something for themselves. They will feel sogood about what they’ve done,” said Kergosien.

Other students who came out to the site Wednesday includedmembers of the Brookhaven High School National Honor Society andfootball team and the Brookhaven Academy senior class.

“It’s going to be part of my community service. It seems like agood project to work on,” said Josh Holmes, a senior at BrookhavenAcademy, which requires 20 hours of community service forgraduation.

Some students said they had already met the required hours, butthought the project was important enough to donate a few morehours.

At least one teacher also set an example of having a commitmentto improve Brookhaven.

“I took my personal days so I could be out here all week,” saidDr. Marilyn Dow-Harris, a fourth grade teacher at BrookhavenElementary School.

However, the project will require the commitment of a fewhundred more people in order for the dream of a playground “wherekids can be kids” to be realized.

“This is a chance in a lifetime that you can come out andactually construct something that’s going to be a real asset toBrookhaven,” said Doty. “There’s no telling how many hundreds ofthousands of children are going to play on it during the next 30years or more.”

Volunteers are not only rewarded for their efforts with thesatisfaction that they have made a difference in the community, butalso with new friendships.

Volunteers are also provided with meals throughout the day. Alocal pastry shop donated breakfast, while lunch was provided by anarea restaurant, and dinner was prepared by members of First UnitedMethodist Church.