FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOX) – They needed 24-hours for the concrete to set, but now kids are being encouraged to come out and play on the new playground put up by volunteers in Ferguson this week.
There’s plenty of fun activities waiting for them, from a climbing wall to a bridge to multiple slides.
Victoria Schmitt Babb, community resource manager for St. Charles-based Play 4 ALL and one of the driving forces behind the effort, said she’s amazed at the way a project just conceived about a month ago has come together.
“We were able to raise the dollars (within) two days,” she explains. “The Fraternal Order of Police (and Shield of Hope) helped us with that. We had a very short timeline — I said I’d love to get this playground in by the end of September, and that was pushing it. It was about four to five weeks we were able to get the equipment ordered, the funds raised, the volunteers mobilized.”
More than 60 volunteers turned out for Thursday’s build, and they got it done within five hours according to Babb.
Matt Unrein, assistant city manager and public works and parks director for the city of Ferguson, calls it a great step toward healing two years after the Michael Brown shooting and the riots that followed.
“Ferguson has closed one chapter and we’re opening a new one,” he said. “Really a revitalization of the community and a reunderstanding of the members of our community and how we can all work together.”
The playground equipment, valued at approximately $30,000, was gifted to the community and funds were mobilized by the Fraternal Order of Police and Play 4 ALL by tapping into philanthropic resources.
Ferguson mayor James Knowles III called the project “a symbol of our police officers showing that they really do care about the communities in which they serve”.
It’s a concept that Play 4 ALL’s Victoria Babb wants to see replicated in other cities, perhaps even those that — like Ferguson — have recently been scarred by social unrest.
“Looking at Charlotte, Dallas, Tulsa,” she pointed out. “Play 4 ALL would love to take the Healing Community Through Play initiative nationwide. We just feel like there’s a great opportunity to engage the Fraternal Order of Police, have their law enforcement officers in those cities say ‘You know, we’ll work together’.”
The new playground is located behind the Ferguson Community Center at 1050 Smith Avenue.
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