This post is part of sponsored series in partnership with Dr Pepper Snapple Group. All opinions are my own.
Have you ever volunteered on a project or taken part in a fundraiser and then wondered whatever happened after your part was done? I’ve often wondered if the part I played in community improvement projects actually had any impact on anyone’s life. Usually you never really hear anything more, right? I was lucky enough to get to participate in a follow up call and hear about the differences the Merrill Park makeover is having!
In case you’ve forgotten (or are new here), last month I had the chance to attend the complete makeover of a local playground in Milwaukee. Through a partnership with Dr Pepper Snapple Group who is providing the funding for the project and KaBOOM! a non-profit organization, I got to follow the makeover of Merrill Park from the initial planning meeting and actual build day through the follow up meeting.
The Let’s Play project came about because of the need for children to have a place to move and experience active play. While most people associate active play with weight management with kids (and it can be a part of that), it is also a huge part of the development of crucial skills like coordination, gross motor skills, and strength. Active play also helps kids develop important social and self-advocacy skills.
Why the Merrill Park neighborhood? This park serves about 10,000 resident children ages 2 to 12 where the average annual income is just over $24,000. The previous park was old, run down, and did not offer a lot for the younger kids to do, especially in the creative play department.
The build day was fantastic and I left feeling inspired and hoping that the playground would make a real difference in the lives of the residents of Merrill Park. I had the chance to also participate in the follow up call a few weeks after the build and hear what the residents of the area had to say about how the park was received by the residents of the area.
The one thing that kept coming up over and over again as different people spoke was that the park was being used – a lot! One resident mentioned that it was actually drawing families from surrounding neighborhoods as well. The principal of Marquette University High School mentioned that she can see the park from her office window and loves seeing the kids playing there every day.
A large number of MUHS students volunteered on build day and some of them ran fun activities for the kids. It was mentioned on the call that the students would love to plan a carnival day for the kids with more activities like the one on build day. What a great way for the high school to connect with the local children!
I also loved hearing from members of the neighborhood association that the park was inspiring them to plan upcoming events. The idea of having a park movie night in the outdoor classroom structure was discussed. October is the perfect month for some spooky movies and it sounds like they have some really fun ideas.
I found myself smiling through the entire follow up call as it was so great to hear that all the hard work had paid off and that the residents of Merrill Park were getting so much out of the park renewal. The folks who planned and built the park did it with such passion. It was great to hear that the kids in the neighborhood (and the adults too) are embracing the park with equal passion.
See the build in action: