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Eden Gardens Block Club – January 2019 Update

Written by: Karen Knox, Executive Director, Eden Gardens Block Club

Eden Gardens is using our NeighborHUB funding to create the “Forever Young” playground in our community. We envisioned this playground as a place for the young and elderly to come together to enjoy life, exercise, and learn from each other.

The vision for the playground started as I was walking in our community and a group of children approached me and asked if I could build them a playground. Their question immediately made me reminisce about the fun I had on playgrounds when I was growing up. With these fond memories in mind, I answered “yes” even though I had no idea whether the block club could build a playground in the community or how we would fund such a large project.

First, we sought approval from the City of Detroit. Next, we purchased land from the Land Bank and received approval for the project. We then began applying for grants and soon secured some funding to start building out our vision.

With a plan, money, and a contractor we were ready to start building the playground. We were able to accomplish this first phase of the playground with the help of community volunteers, our friends from Repair the World, Thornapple Valley Church, and with the cooperation from our District Manager, Letty Azar. It would take longer than expected, and Mother Nature was not lending any help, but the men in the community rolled up their sleeves, persevered though the cold, and put all the chips down around the equipment.

We are now moving to the second phase of the project: removing the large trees on the property that could potentially pose a risk to children. Once the tree is removed, we plan on installing the focal point of the playground: a large playscape.

My advice for anyone looking to build a playground is to take your time, find a safe spot for all children, get the community to buy in on the project, and give yourself extra time in case you run into some hiccups. One thing we’re learning is that no accomplishments can be made without experiencing challenges, and challenges only prepare you to do better next time.