Archived Story

Second playground goes KaBOOM!

Published 7:27pm Friday, October 18, 2013

KaBOOM! will once more work its magic in Beaufort County — this time at the Oakcrest housing complex in Washington.

The playground designers, in partnership with the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, will enlist Washington Housing Authority residents to help design, plan and build a new playground that will provide the 200-plus children of the housing development with a safe place to play, according to Marc Recko, CEO of Washington Housing Authority. While there is an existing playground at the complex, it is not adequate for the number of children who live there, Recko said.

“We’ve got 200-some kids on that site and no place for them to play, nothing for them to do afterhours. There’s a lot of kids there,” Recko explained. “Either in the summertime or when the kids get home, there are no facilities, so the kids looking for something to do are just hanging out in the street.”

Recko said the KaBOOM! playground will give them a positive play choice near home.

The Oakcrest playground will be the sixth such playground built by the KaBOOM!–Kate B. Reynolds partnership as part of Healthy Places NC, a long-term initiative to improve the health of 10 to 15 low-income, rural North Carolina counties over a 10-year period. Beaufort, Halifax and McDowell counties were the first three counties chosen for the initiative.

KaBOOM! funds a large part of the project, but it’s left to the residents to help plan, build and come up with the remaining funding. The building comes in one day with as many volunteers as can be drummed up from the surrounding community.

The seven-week project begins Monday, as children from the complex sit down to design their “dream playground.” Some of their ideas, along with those of adult volunteers, will be incorporated into a final KaBOOM! design. End result is a playground built in one day: Dec. 14.

While the Oakcrest playground is just starting its planning phase, Belhaven volunteers will be building their KaBOOM! playground Oct. 26. Recko said he and other organizers from the Washington Housing Authority will be in Belhaven to help, and learn.

“It’ll be good to partner up and get some experience,” Recko said.

According to the KaBOOM! website, children today spend less time playing outside than any previous generation, in part because only one in five children live within walking distance of a park or playground. Children need play every day in order to be active and healthy and a play deficit has profound consequences for kids physically, emotionally and cognitively.

“It’s always good to give a child a positive thing to do as opposed to a negative one and it’s been shown that play helps,” Recko said. “It’s better to have kids out and exercising rather than sitting in front of the TV all the time.”

Recko said the housing authority will host a yard sale Saturday and a car wash and bake sale in the weeks to come to earn its $8,000 contribution for the playground. Organizers also intend to enlist the help of local businesses and civic groups.

“We’re hoping they might make contributions to make this playground a reality,” Recko said. “Anyone looking to contribute can just give me a call.”

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