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Kent students share ideas, designs for new playground

Great work: East Hill Elementary School Principal Daxa Thomas follows the playground design from Juan Najera, 8, a second-grader.  - Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter
Great work: East Hill Elementary School Principal Daxa Thomas follows the playground design from Juan Najera, 8, a second-grader.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter

Kids are applying vivid imagination and crayons to paper so that their dream playground can go KaBOOM!

Students at East Hill Elementary created colorful designs to suggest what their neighborhood playground at Turnkey Park would look like come June.

It is all part of a community-wide effort to revitalize the playground. The city of Kent Parks, Recreation and Community Services, the Kent Parks Foundation, Disney VoluntEARS and organizers from KaBOOM! – coordinators of the park project – hosted the design party at the school last Friday.

KaBOOM! Project Manager Katrina Hill arrived from Washington, D.C., to lead the students in dance and inspire their designs.

Kids quickly put their vision to crayon-etched blueprints. Some drew basketball courts and slides, others a pond and rock climbing wall.

"It's wonderful to see the community pull together to help build a fun and safe place for our children to play, and I love that the children will have a hand in designing the playground," said Daxa Thomas, principal at East Hill Elementary.

Elements from the children's drawings will be incorporated into the final design for the new community playground to be built on June 7 at Turnkey Park, 23312 100th Ave. SE. Design day was the first meeting of the playground planning committee that will work for the next 10 weeks to plan and prepare for the construction of the new playground.

"We're grownups. We don't know what kids want," said Victoria Andrews, special programs manager for Kent Parks. "We want this to be their park. ... If they design it, they will help take care of it."

The city is working with KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to saving play for America's children. Its mission is to create great play spaces through the participation and leadership of communities. Ultimately, it envisions a place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

The agency helped build a new playground in 2011 at Tudor Square Park in Kent.

The new playground is one of dozens made possible with support from Disney to encourage kids to lead healthier lifestyles and provide more than 1,300 children in Kent with a safe place to play. The current playground equipment at Turnkey Park is outdated and in need of replacement.

Disney will provide a donation that's equivalent to the playground equipment at the park, Andrews said. The city plans to match an $8,500 KaBOOM! grant for the playground build.

Disney, the project's corporate partner, plans to provide 75 volunteers to help with the park build on June 7.

A new, enlarged play space will be created by 200 volunteers with help from the project's community partners.

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PHOTO BELOW: KaBOOM! Project Manager Katrina Hill leads students in dance at the design-your- neighborhood-playground party. Mark Klaas, Kent Reporter


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