First “Injury Free” Playground

Contact: Amanda White

 

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UK Hospital trauma data analysis conducted by the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Lexington showed the Gainesway zip code to consistently rank in the top three for numbers of trauma cases involving children under age 18 in Fayette County from 1995-2001.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 20, 2004) -- Several Lexington organizations gathered today for a ceremony to break ground on a playground that organizers hope will help prevent injuries to children in a neighborhood with one of the highest numbers of injuries in the city. The playground will be constructed in Gainesway Park.

A $60,000 University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital grant received from the Allstate Foundation and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids provided the last missing piece of money for the playground, long envisioned by a group including the Gainesway Empowerment Center, the United Way Success By 6® initiative, LexLinc, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Division of Parks and Recreation and Minnifield-Cutter-Ball Inc.

Work on the playground site begins this National Playground Safety Week and will be completed during the summer. Over the past three years, the Injury Free Coalition for Kids and the Allstate Foundation together have built 14 playgrounds in the United States.

“Providing for the health and safety of our children lays a firm foundation for stronger, more vital neighborhoods,” said Ron Corbin, Field Vice President for Allstate’s Southern Region.

For years, Gainesway Empowerment Center director Mattie Morton, B.S.W., has worried about unsafe play conditions for children in the neighborhood.

“They play in the streets, slide down the hill into the street, and all try to pile on to the one tire swing,” she said. “Just a few weeks ago, a child had to be treated at the hospital for injuries.”

UK Hospital trauma data analysis conducted by the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Lexington showed the Gainesway zip code to consistently rank in the top three for numbers of trauma cases involving children under age 18 in Fayette County from 1995-2001.

“We hope that this playground will make a real difference for the community,” said Susan Pollack, M.D., the UK Children’s Hospital pediatrician who directs the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Lexington. “It is important that everyone come together to help prevent injury. It is the number one cause of death of young people.”

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Division of Parks and Recreation will provide the land for the playground, in addition to $40,000 generated from a communications tower lease agreement. City engineers have obtained an additional grant to renovate an existing pond at Gainesway Park into a wetland with trails.

"The Division of Parks and Recreation is grateful to all of those who have partnered to make the park a reality," said Chuck Ellis, director, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Division of Parks and Recreation. "Recreation opportunities are part of what make Lexington a great place to live and the efforts of those involved are improving those opportunities for Lexington citizens."

A $30,000 donation was given by the United Way Success by 6 initiative, which is a national community-based movement of public and private partnerships that work together to deliver proven solutions in early childhood development that ensure all children ages 0 to 6 are healthy, nurtured and ready to succeed. The Success by 6 donation was matched by Minnifield-Cutter-Ball Inc.

"The Gainesway area has been a priority for both Minnifield-Cutter-Ball Inc. and the Success by 6 initiative since it started three years ago,” said Kathy Plomin, president and chief professional officer of United Way of the Bluegrass. “The birth rate within that area is three times of any other area in Lexington and with our emphasis on the prenatal to six year old population we felt we should target our efforts for that area to make an impact. The park and playground will be a very welcomed and needed addition for Gainesway's many young families and Success by 6 is proud to be part of this successful collaboration for the neighborhood."

Plans for the new unique and colorful playground were designed jointly by John L. Carman and Associates, a Lexington landscape architecture firm, and David Strong of Bluegrass Recreation/Little Tikes. The playground construction will be complete by the end of the year.

Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church members are helping with several aspects of the playground and park.


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