A Safe Place to Play

February 8, 2007

Reported by: Britney Glaser

A person can accomplish a lot in one day, but could you build a brand new state-of-the-art playground in just one morning?  There is one group coming to Lake Charles with that mission.

There are more than 160 children living in the Lloyd Oaks Housing Development with little room to play outside, but that will soon change for these kids that are eager to have a safe place to play.

Brenda Minor is a grandmother of three that cares for the kids each day.  She lives in the Lloyd Oaks Housing Development with little space to entertain the kids.  As her 3-year-old grandson, John Poullard rides has bike toward the street she yells, "Come back, Jeremiah!"  There's not much space to play at this development.  John rides his tricycle in circles around the concrete parking space.  Minor says, "That's all day long...he rides that bike like that all day."

Most children end up playing in the street in this development because of no other outdoor alternative.  Minor says, "There's a lot of kids here that need somewhere to go and they need a lot of activities for them besides keeping them out of the streets."

That's where a group named "KaBOOM!" is stepping in to work with the city.  Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach says, "KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that has established a goal to have a playground in walking distance for every child in America."

The land is already being cleared to build a colorful playground in the Lloyd Oaks Development.  Shirley Poullard is a mother of three young children.  She says, "That will be very exciting because the kids need something to play with and something else to do to keep them around because there's a lot of kids in the neighborhood that just walk the streets."  19-year-old Robert Rollerson says, "They need a park, so they can go play at the park instead of trying to be grown at a young age."

The kids that are ready to see this playground built have a growing list of ideas to keep them busy at the site.  4-year-old Jeremiah Victorian says he wants to throw a football at the park.  3-year-old John says he wants to play ball, swing, slide and ride his bike.  It won't be long until they have this opportunity in a safe space.

To make this project a success, local volunteers are still needed.  If you would like to volunteer your time on February 22nd, contact the city at 491-1292.

This project is just one part of the "Playful Cities Project" by KaBOOM!.  In New Orleans today, there is a national conference for city representatives to meet up about plans to increase the number of parks and playgrounds in their communities.  Mayor Roach says this is a project that Lake Charles is proud to be a part of and he believes that parks should be a top priority for cities in order to bring families together.

This is the schedule for February 22nd:
8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Volunteers build playground
10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Best viewing of near complete project
3:00 p.m., Board-cutting ceremony to open the new playground