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SC to build 'multigenerational playground' in 1 day

Chris Dorst
South Charleston children design their dream playgrounds at the LaBelle Theater on Wednesday. The designs will be used to inspire the Second Avenue Playground, to be built Oct. 20.
Chris Dorst Lauren Allen, project manager for the national nonprofit Kaboom, shows off Brideview kindergartener Nevaeh Dye's artwork at the design meeting.

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jeremiah Gibson, a first-grade student at Bridgeview Elementary School, drew monkey bars, a pool and a curvy slide.

"I hope there are bouncy toys," he said.

Gibson's and other local children's ideas will be used to inspire the design for the new Second Avenue Playground in South Charleston, which will replace the existing 40-year-old wooden play area.

South Charleston was chosen by Kaboom, a national nonprofit dedicated to "saving play," as the location for a one-of-a-kind "multigenerational playground."

The site not only will provide the children at St. John Heart and Hand Daycare a new place to play, but also will offer shaded areas, exercise stations and shelters for adults.

"It's not just about a playground. It's really about bringing people together and teaching kids what being a community really means," said Kaboom project manager Lauren Allen. "These kids deserve something nice to play on."

More than 200 volunteers from the South Charleston community and Humana, a health-care company providing 90 percent of the funding for the project, will build the playground on Oct. 20.

"We're going to get this thing built in one day, no matter what -- rain or shine," Allen said. "It's about teaching kids teamwork."

South Charleston City Councilwoman Kathleen Walker said it is important to create something for all ages, and the new playground is designed for "everyone from 2 to 100.

"We have great kids who deserve nice things to play on, and we have an older population that deserves a great place to read a book. We wanted to make sure it was comfortable for everyone," she said. "We're teaching our kids that it's important to pay it forward in a really cool way."

Adults and children from the community met Wednesday at the LaBelle Theater to make their suggestions for the new playground. Requests included picnic areas, gardening plots and walking pathways.

"The kids are so excited. This is a great opportunity for them to say they've really made a change in their community," said Nancy Davis, director of St. John Heart and Hand Daycare. "It means a lot to them, and that means a lot to us."

Reach Mackenzie Mays at Mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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