Last week members of the Millbrook Christian Assembly learned their application for a grant from the insurance giant Aviva was successful, earning them $10,000 towards their dream of creating an accessible playground beside the parking lot of their church on King St. West.
In their grant application, they outlined the lack of community playgrounds in the village, particularly ones that were accessible. Noting the anticipated growth in the community stemming from new housing developments, they expressed a desire to provide a safe and exciting playground area equipped with features that would welcome children with disabilities and provide appropriate challenges and stimulation. In short, they were focused on creating a playground that would be accessible and enjoyable for everyone.
The idea of creating a playground in this location was sparked by the last winter storm earlier this year which uprooted an old tree, dropping it on the grass beside the church parking lot. The tree acted like a magnet for local children, organically transforming the space into a playground for a dozen or more children every afternoon.
The activity around the tree reinforced the belief that the community was lacking playground space for young children. While the sight of children playing is a welcome sight, the staff and congregation were concerned about the safety of their activity. With a young family, Pastor Mark Smallwood was sensitive to this need, and together with the congregation saw an opportunity to address it by developing an accessible playground behind the church. The organizers envision the playground that will not only serve the immediate area in the west end of town, but also draw families from the new development, providing a reason to venture into the village and make connections with residents in the older parts of town. So while the goal is to provide a high quality, accessible and exciting playground for children to enjoy, it also includes creating a place for families to build community relations.
The project is an ambitious one, incorporating sensory stations with swings, spinners and hammocks as well as more traditional equipment with a total cost of $185K. The Aviva grant announced last week provides a jumpstart, but the fundraising effort is beginning. Grant applications have also been submitted elsewhere, including a significant one to a federal government program which will be announced in the new year. Even if this request is successful, more funds will be needed to complete the Harvest Community Park project.
Over the next few weeks, a fundraising committee will be established to solicit support from local sources to help bring the project to fruition. Despite the magnitude of the funding challenge, consistent with their faith, church members express confidence in their ability to meet their goal, saying they have put the problem where it belongs; in God’s hands. The project is expected to be completed in 2019.
To learn more about the project or offer support, visit the church website, www.mca-eod.org and search Harvest Community Park. Charitable receipts provided for donations. KG