A Place to Play in Eureka

In cooperation with the City of Eureka, Eureka Adult School is playing a key role in the rebuilding of a community playground at Hammond Park, located at 14th and E Street. Through a grant coordinated by KaBOOM!, an organization that connects funders with communities needing play spaces, adult school students helped with the design and building of a new park, primarily funded by CaliforniaVolunteers, part of the Governor's office. (Note: Although the Eureka Adult School is working to raise some of the park's funding, the City of Eureka put up $10,000 as a guarantee.)

KaBOOM! play spaces are designed by children and built by the communities that use them. Eureka kids chose their favorite slides, climbers, ramps and rails, decided on a color scheme, and created a unique theme. Hundreds of local residents, including adult school students, will volunteer their time to install the playground. Important decisions about layout, safety, and land issues were made by Eureka's community leaders and concerned citizens.

For adult school students, the program encourages ongoing community involvement. The Adults with Disabilities program will plant and maintain an edible garden as part of the park. Participants will learn about science, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture, as well as "soft" skills of responsibility, leadership, and awareness of environmental issues.

Getting Started
On January 23, Eureka hosted a design day to kick-off the project. It began with a site walkthrough led by the KaBOOM! project manager who visited the playground site to discuss the community's vision for the space and to determine necessary site preparation. Next came a children's session during which the project manager stirred the kids' imagination and asked them to draw their dream playground. That design was then presentend to participating adults for their input.

At the end of the day, the adults learned about the building process and discussed the planning required prior to the day of construction. Then, from the manufacture's (Playworld System) catalog a list of preferred components was compiled and sent to Playworld, where engineers used it to develop three designs from which the community made a final selection.

Ms. Hutchins believes the community play space project will bring a sense of fun, freedom and creativity to hundreds of children. "Play is a necessity, not a luxury. Children who engage in active play perform better in school, think more creatively, maintain healthier body weights and are better able to resolve their problems peacefully," she said.

She went on to note that safe play spaces also serve as community meeting places, thereby reducing neighborhood crime and promoting adult recreation. "Just as play is essential to a child's physical, mental and social development, so will this playground contribute to the health and vibrancy of the entire Eureka community." said Ms. Hutchins.

Communities can apply for a play space grant at www.kaboom.org. The entire process, from applying to completing the park, has taken Eureka about six months. Construction for the new park will take place over a three-day period, ending March 29.

For more information, contact Michelle Hutchins,
Eureka Adult School, 707-441-2448,
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(Source:CSAE Insider)