An army of volunteers from the City of Dayton and the community joined KaBOOM! on Saturday, Nov. 23, to transform an under-used space in the city’s Daniel Park into a kid-designed, state-of-the-art playground in just six hours. The new playground will help make play the easy choice for kids and families impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Dayton.
In October, kids from the community came together to draw their dream playground. Their drawings will be transformed into a playground based on their inspiration and will provide thousands of kids city, over this playground’s lifetime, with a great, safe place to play following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
“Daniel Park, the largest of Dayton’s city parks, received a great deal of damage from the storm, washing out trails and damaging already aging play areas,” said Dayton Mayor Caroline Wadzeck. “Through the generosity of KaBoom! and Rebuild Texas, this park will welcome families for years to come.”
Ensuring kids have safe places to play is critical to helping families and communities heal during times of recovery, as they continue to deal with the stress of lost homes, lost loved ones and lost routines. By creating and providing playspaces, this work will help kids and communities continue to regain a sense of normalcy and make play an easier choice for families.
The new playground, which will officially open this week to children, is located in a part of the park that has historically been a low area, so in recent months the city improved the drainage and brought in dirt to change the elevation.
“It used to catch all the water. We worked on the drainage and added sidewalk accessibility. Part of our work over the last several weeks was building up the site,” said Patti Jett, communications director for the City of Dayton. “We built the play area up another foot today.”
The playscape has a monopole swing set, a climbing tower with two slides and three suspended wheels, and an auditory area where children can play the drums or ring bells. The plascape is set up inside a perimeter border that holds bark mulch to soften a fall. Surrounding the playground are two pergolas, six benches and three picnic tables, including one that is handicap-accessible.
“This type of playscape, if we had to contract it out, could have easily cost the City between $300,000 and $400,000,” said City Manager Theo Melancon. “I am very appreciative of everyone who came out to make this project possible. These are the types of projects that build a community, when everyone comes together to create something meaningful. It builds confidence and pride in one’s community. This will be a hallmark landscape for the community.”
Anyone can buy a playground, Jett added, but the City of Dayton and volunteers built one.
This playground project is part of a broader effort led by the Rebuild Texas Fund and KaBOOM! to serve communities affected by Hurricane Harvey by ensuring kids can get back to the business of childhood. Overall, the partnership will lead 27 community-designed playspace projects and award 30 creative play products – Imagination Playground™ and Rigamjig – to organizations across 41 counties in Southeast Texas, providing new opportunities to play for more than 145,000 kids over the next generation.