“There have been times when this neighborhood was labeled as hopeless…this is hope realized,” said Yvonne Edwards, as she watched the final pieces go into place on a new playground at the Parkland Boys & Girls Club in Louisville, Ky. “It’s simply awesome. People with diverse lives – different ages, genders, culture, those from this community, from around Louisville and beyond – brought it all together.”
Yvonne, her husband, Stephen, and 300 other volunteers from the Parkland neighborhood, Humana and KaBOOM! gathered in an empty field on the morning of Oct. 16. By 3 p.m. that same afternoon, this diverse group of individuals had worked together as one team to create a unique community playground, garden and amphitheater.
“We are doing this for the children, but we all benefit,” said Stephen Edwards. “They will see what can be done. When an event touches our children, it touches our future.”
The Louisville playground is one of a growing number of play spaces that Humana, The Humana Foundation and KaBOOM! are building across the country. As part of a three-year alliance that extends a partnership formed in 2011, more than 50 playgrounds will be built across the United States over a four-year time frame.
The Parkland playground was the first to be built in Louisville and the first to be sponsored by The Humana Foundation. The Humana Foundation’s Remy Shu said the Parkland site was chosen after the Foundation presented a $25,000 grant to the Boys & Girls Club on behalf of Humana’s IMPACT African-American Network Resource Group. At that time, Shu said, the Foundation realized that the children in the area had no safe place to play. The Boys & Club itself was reopened only a month ago. The Foundation wanted to provide a community resource, such as the new intergenerational space, that could be used by children and adults to enhance their well-being, reconnect and build memories.
Current and former community members were happy to take part in creating something that they saw as a building block to a better future for a once-vibrant neighborhood that has fallen on tough economic times and has been the site of recent violence.
“I grew up around here, and used to come to this Boys & Girls Club, “said 44-year-old Rod Holt, a Humana associate and member of the IMPACT group who volunteered to help built the playground. “Used to play touch football right here. Facilities like this club and this playground will help give the kids who are growing up here now the opportunity to have a place to go where they can find an alternative to violence.”
Many of the children in the neighborhood showed their support for the project by participating in the Aug. 15 Design Day, where they worked together on a wish list and laid out their vision of what the perfect playground might look like. On Friday, Oct. 19, they will see how the ideas they drew on a piece of paper have become reality when the playground is officially opened during a community celebration at the club.
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