Gainesway Playground Dedicated

Contact: Amanda White

Photo of man and child trying out new playground equipment

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After the brief dedication ceremony, community children began using the playground, which keeps them safe and provides physical activity. The playground also includes an educational component using the alphabet, numbers, astronomy and a piano.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 30, 2004) -- After three years of planning and over 100 volunteers building, children have a fun and safe playground in the Gainesway neighborhood. A $60,000 University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital grant received from the Allstate Foundation and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids helped meet the financial goals for the playground, long envisioned by 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.

Representatives from these organizations recently dedicated the playground and opened it to children for the first time.

About three years ago, the Gainesway community identified that children did not have an adequate playground and were receiving injuries, some serious, because they did not have a safe place to play.

“The children only had a tire swing to use,” said Mattie Morton, director of the Gainesway Community Empowerment Center. “Many of them had fallen off the tire swing, and some of them had broken bones because of the falls.”

In 2000, the United Way of the Bluegrass Success by 6 Initiative began concentrating its efforts in the Gainesway area because the neighborhood has one of the highest birth rates in Lexington. Success by 6, an initiative which focuses on the success of children through 6 years of age, identifies the health and safety of children as one of its four outcome areas.

In addition, the Injury Free Coalition for Kids at UK Children’s Hospital found that Gainesway is one of three Lexington zip codes with the highest number of severe traumas.

Because of these findings, volunteers decided to focus attention on the needs of the children by assisting with the planning and building of a playground.

"It is important to us to improve lives – one neighborhood at a time – if that is how United Way can be most effective," said Alan Stein, chair of United Way of Bluegrass Board of Directors. "A safe place to play, built by the community for the community, has long term benefits for all involved."

The Gainesway community held neighborhood meetings to plan its strategies. Children of the community went door-to-door collecting names on a petition to show the need for the playground.

“The neighborhood was trying so hard to get a playground of its own, and the least we could do was support its efforts,” said Don Ball, president of LexLinc, which is a partner in the local Success by 6 Initiative.

With minimal support from community partners, the Gainesway neighborhood advocated for Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government to support the playground project.

Not only did Lexington provide the park, but it also will donate funds generated from a communications tower lease agreement. In addition, the playground was made possible through an Allstate Foundation playground grant secured by the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of UK Children’s Hospital. Success by 6 and Minnifield, Cutter, and Ball, Inc. gave matching donations to ensure that the playground would be state-of-the-art. Grant funds generated totaled $160,000.

On July 10, over 100 volunteers from the Gainesway community and beyond built the playground in less than 10 hours. After the equipment was assembled, an innovative surface was poured and cured for several days, making the playground unavailable for children to play until the official opening day.

Mary Washington, a parent from the Gainesway neighborhood, said, “It’s been a long time coming, and a God-send to the community and the children.”

After the brief dedication ceremony, community children began using the playground, which keeps them safe and provides physical activity. The playground also includes an educational component using the alphabet, numbers, astronomy and a piano.

“The playground is a true picture of what the community can do when we pull our resources together,” Morton said. “We don’t know who is more excited, the adults or the children.”


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