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Flock of volunteers builds playground in one day at church

The process to create a new neighborhood park in the Cedar Avenue area began more than nine months ago, but when 230 volunteers came together on Nov. 16, it took only a few hours to build it.

“This morning this was all dirt,” said Dixon Keller, Nevada sales director for Humana. “Look what we have now. We are actually building this playground in six hours.”

The project was organized in part by KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to ensure that every child in America has a place to play within walking distance. The organization seeks out “play deserts,” places typically in urban settings where there is no safe playground for children. For the Cedar Avenue park, the organization found a location to build at C3 Church, 501 N. Mojave Road.

KaBOOM! partners with local and national charities to create a park in one day.

“We’ve got volunteers from Humana, Three Square, C3 Church and other members of the community.” Keller said. “We’ve got veterans the Naval Sea Cadet Corps and the pastor pitching in. A lot of people came out from Humana’s Arizona offices. Our director of finance is out here, and he’s been carting mulch all day.”

By 1 p.m., mulch was being moved to the playground. Volunteers stood on the mound of mulch in the parking lot shoveling it into wheelbarrows at breakneck speed. When there weren’t enough wheelbarrows, the volunteers improvised, creating makeshift litters out of plastic tarpaulins.

The main sections of playground equipment were up, although it would be another three days before the cement cured and kids could use it.

“We didn’t do any construction on this before today,” Keller said. “It’s all been done today. We dug the holes and poured the cement this morning.”

The preparations were a matter of paperwork, planning and prayer.

“When we’re informed that KaBOOM! was doing this, that they were looking for a place around here to put a park, we got the congregation together and prayed,” said Mario Rodriguez, senior pastor at C3 Church. “Then we started working on the paperwork and letting them know we wanted to be a part of it. It was a lengthy process.”

Once KaBOOM! decided the church property was the right place to build, organizers went to the people who would be using the facility to begin the design process.

“We gave about 35 little kids paper and told them to draw their dream playground on one side,” Keller said. “Then we told them to draw a great place for their parents and grandparents on the other side. They drew rock walls, ziplines, slides swings and sandboxes. On the adult side, they had rocking chairs, checkerboards and a place to have tea and a nap.”

Organizers incorporated as many of the childrens’ ideas in the final plan as they could, although they scrapped the rocking chairs and tea in favor of exercise stations for adults.

“Play is a very important part of well-being and health,” Keller said. “We wanted to build a place where the neighbors could socialize. It was important that C3 created this place for the public, not just the church. It’s a community park now.”

Rodriguez said the project brought the community together in ways he had not expected.

“All through the process, there were little things here and there we needed,” he said. “People and organizations just jumped in and helped out. Home Depot came in and supported us. Three Square helped out. A lot of community organizations got involved and pitched in.”

Rodriguez said he was pleased with the final project and how it all came together.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said.

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 702-380-4532.

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