A playground can be a wonderful space for a neighborhood. It gives children a place to play together, and it also gives their caregivers another option when it comes to finding something to do.
Many neighborhoods are fortunate enough to have a playground set aside for use by the area residents, but others don’t. If your city or neighborhood organization has been hesitant to fund and construct a playground, don’t give up home. You may be able to spearhead the effort on your own.
Spearheading a Community Playground
If you want to get a playground into your neighborhood, here are some steps you can take:
1. Form an organizational committee. You don’t want to try to tackle this project on your own, for a number of different reasons. Get some of the other people in the community involved, and get them to help you with planning, promoting, and building the playground.
2. Look for sponsors. The very first step in getting your playground in place is figuring out how to pay for it. One of the best and fastest sources of funding is business sponsorship. Neighborhood businesses may be willing to make contributions – sometimes significant contributions – toward these kinds of neighborhood projects. Talk to local business owners and see who might be interested.
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3. Check into grants or other funding. Depending on where you live, there might be a number of funding options beyond sponsorship. Some states have community grants that are designed to revitalize neighborhoods hit by urban blight, for example. In other instances, there may be a local charitable foundation that is able to make a contribution. Talk to some of the local community organizations like the Rotary Club and others about possible funding.
4. Get the community behind the project. Talk to others in the community. Get the word out about what you’re doing. A generally positive buzz will help the project in a number of ways. Not only will it help get the project funded, but it will also help people be more enthusiastic about helping it get built and even doing ongoing maintenance as needed.
5. Put on some fundraisers. If the people in your neighborhood really want a new playground, they’ll be able to help fund it. Depending on income levels and other factors, they may not be able to pay for all of it, but you might be surprised just how successful a fundraiser can be.
6. Do some research on liability and legal issues. At some point, you’re probably going to want to talk to an attorney. If the playground is to be built on public land, you’re going to need permission from the city to build it. If it’s a private parcel of land, you’ll need to check into the various legal and liability issues involved, as well.
7. Ask vendors for discounted or free materials. Some suppliers of playground equipment may be willing to offer you a discount on the materials you need. A local construction company might be willing to come in and level the ground, or pour sand. The same goes for landscaping. Find several businesses that are willing to help out with the project, even if they’re not actually sponsoring the playground.
8. Recruit volunteers. One of the best ways to save on the expense of building the playground is to have volunteers who will do the work for you. Chances are pretty good you’ve got some handy folks in your neighborhood who can lend their expertise to the whole assembly process. If not, you can still bring in someone who’s an expert on playground construction and have them serve as the foreman, while your volunteers do all of the heavy lifting.
9. Plan for ongoing maintenance. Playground equipment breaks from time to time. Consider either holding a cash reserve that will serve to keep the equipment up to date, or talk to sponsors about committing to funding repairs as they come up. Get volunteers from the community to help maintain and clean the park equipment, as well.
10. Establish rules and enforcement. Generally speaking, you’re going to want to limit hours of access to the playground so as to prevent vandalism or nighttime accidents. Consider installing a fence, and finding a volunteer to open and close the gate each day.
Your neighborhood can have a wonderful place for children to gather, even if the city can’t afford to do it on its own.
Guest writer Jessica Woodall is Social Media Coordinator at Echo Pacific Construction, a leader in commercial construction throughout California. Echo Pacific prides itself for its focus on green building.
Image: Imagery Majestic