If You Dream It, We Will Build It
Hundreds of community members volunteered to assemble a state-of-the-art, 10,000 square foot playground in Detroit’s Cody Rouge neighborhood.
On a rainy Saturday in late October, more than 200 people gathered in Stein Park in Cody Rouge, a neighborhood in northwest Detroit. It was the final day of a week-long effort to assemble an enormous play structure inspired by the imagination of neighborhood children.
I had the pleasure of participating in this build alongside fellow volunteers. We worked in excited anticipation of the final product of our labor, as if we were ourselves children once again, discovering an unexplored play area. It was an incredible experience that brought me back to my childhood. I have great memories of spending day after day at my neighborhood playground – rain or shine. What’s remarkable to me about the Stein Park playground is that in includes equipment for children of all ages as well as for kids with different levels of athleticism and adventure.
The playground’s design started in August with KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America, asking local kids to draw their dream playground. Kids put crayon to paper, sketching tall slides, high towers, and colorful obstacle courses. These wishes were ultimately transferred into a state-of-the-art, 10,000 square foot playground fit for youth of all ages. It includes a play area for toddlers to safely explore, a climbing area for growing kids to see high above the neighborhood, and an adventure course where older kids can test and develop their athletic skills.
Allowing kids to be kids is important for development. Play helps children explore and learn, building many of the skills needed to be successful like problem solving, communication, and creativity.
Additionally, an impressive playground doesn’t only represents new opportunities for learning, but also represents an investment in kids. A giant, state-of-the-art playground is a signal to children that they matter ̶ that they deserve a healthy and inspiring environment.
Thanks to community support from the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, the City of Detroit Parks and Rec department, and hundreds of volunteers; and to funding support from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, General Motors, Quicken Loans and The Skillman Foundation, kids’ playground dreams came true in Stein Park.
Children should be encouraged to dream big, and adults should listen and help kids build toward their dreams. The KaBoom! playground serves as a wonderful example of this. I’m hopeful that caring community members and organizations will continue to talk to children about their hopes and aspirations, and support kids to help make their dreams come true.