By Amy PerryAugust 16, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (Aug. 16, 2012) -- Fort Lee Family members shared their ideas for a dream playground during an Aug. 9 gathering here. Participating children drew their favorite play equipment in the colors of their choice while parents worked on the logistics of building a playground with kid-friendly materials.
With help from KaBOOM! -- a national non-profit group that builds and refurbishes playgrounds across the nation -- and the Dr Pepper/Snapple Group, the Fort Lee Commonwealth Communities has begun the early stages of conceptualizing a dream playground that will be built in the Monroe Manor housing area.
The design day was the kick-off for the eight-week project that will culminate in a new play area to be built on Oct. 6.
"We did a site walk for the build," said Allie Farrington, KaBOOM! project manager. "The youth portion is where kids draw what they want on their dream playground. Another portion of the design day brings the adults from the community together to organize committees for food, logistics, youth activities, etc. They will plan everything up until the actual build day."
The playground will be built in about six hours with more than 250 volunteers -- mostly Fort Lee residents -- and will be based on the children's designs and color scheme, said Farrington.
"It's good for the kids to be involved so they can be part of a big project, as well as see their parents and friends participate because they want to do something good in the community," she said.
The Dr Pepper/Snapple Group is funding this build as part of a $15 million, three-year plan to build and refurbish 2,000 playgrounds with KaBOOM.
"Partnering with KABOOM is just one of the things we do," said Kevin Rodden, a Dr Pepper/Snapple Group national account executive. "It's a corporate culture of ours. What we are supposed to do as employees is give back to the community in some fashion."
Rodden, who is on the military sales team, said his counterpart in the organization helped to build a playground at Camp Pendleton, Calif., last year and he is anxious to complete a similar project on the East Coast. Since he regularly works with the Defense Commissary Agency headquarters, also located on Fort Lee, this location was the first that came to mind.
"We are excited to do this project on Fort Lee," he said. "I'd be excited no matter which military base it was on because the military Family is the most important family we have. I've been doing my job for eight years -- and working with DeCA -- and there's no better family that this project can service."
Several Families were available at the design day and they said they enjoyed sharing ideas for the new playground.
"We wanted to be able to help out with a good project," said Sharon Dowd, a mother at the event. "We're excited about the park. I know my son will have a lot of fun helping to build the play area."