At Taylor Bend YMCA in Western Branch on Thursday, children get to work designing their dream playground. The fun activity will provide inspiration for an actual playground being developed at the Y.
At Taylor Bend YMCA in Western Branch on Thursday, children get to work designing their dream playground. The fun activity will provide inspiration for an actual playground being developed at the Y.

Dream playground inspires kids

Published 8:12pm Thursday, August 15, 2013

Armed with crayons and paper, scores of pint-sized architects helped launch an innovative playground project at Taylor Bend Family YMCA on Thursday.

The popular Y is getting a 2,500-square-foot multi-generational playground, thanks to national nonprofit KaBOOM!, which has developed or improved more than 15,000 playgrounds, and health insurer Humana.

Local children summoned Thursday to design their dream playground unleashed various creative visions.

“I want to see a slide built into a trampoline,” said Declan O’Donnell, while Jimmy Buyrn commented: “The No. 1 thing I want to see is a see-saw.”

“Their drawings will really be our inspiration,” said Melissa Drouganis, KaBOOM! project manager.

Some more precise planning by adult volunteers followed the kids’ design session.

Kelly Bridgman, the Y’s executive director, said the process started when its board of volunteers flagged a playground as a worthy project.

But Bridgman learned it would cost $50,000 to $60,000, which “we would have to raise through donations.”

“Mid-July, I was going through emails, and there was one about applying for a playground grant,” she said.

“I thought, ‘What the heck, I’m just going to apply for this.’”

KaBOOM! offered assistance and encouragement throughout the application, Bridgman said, adding the Y had to raise $8,500 seed money in three days as part of the process, as well as find a funding partner, which turned out to be Humana.

“We got the call last week that we were awarded this playground,” Bridgman said.

“Multi-generational” means seniors and 2- to 5-year-olds will share the playground, which will include three seniors’ fitness stations.

Bridgman said 150 to 200 volunteers will descend on the Y between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 to build the playground.

“We’ve already got confirmation from the Coast Guard and some of our (local) colleges,” she said.

Serving on the Y’s board is James Templeton, of Suffolk engineering company Allfirst.

“The Y has just opened up many opportunities for young children,” Templeton said. “I’m looking forward to bringing more families to the Y and keeping us growing.”

He said the 13-member board wants to grow to 20, adding, “We come from all different walks of life, all different age groups and all different demographics.”

The playground will also include walking paths and a gathering space for family picnics.

Humana, the Humana Foundation and KaBOOM! will build more than 50 playgrounds across the U.S. over four years, according to a news release.

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