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PUBLISHED: 4:32 PM on Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Volunteering an asset in building playground, uniting community

With 10 scheduled workdays and thousands of volunteers, constructing a playground at Twin Lakes sounds like a synopsis from one of those home makeover shows on television. However, Project Playground is bringing the experience to Juneau and the residents of the communities are the stars.

Committee members of Project Playground have been working for more than a year and a half to see a play area for children come to fruition.

Not only will the massive play area at Twin Lakes be a special spot for children, but it was designed by them as well. Designers from Leathers Associates, a company specializing in helping communities build playgrounds, spent days with children to learn about their idea. What resulted was a design that reflects the area and brings to life the ideas of Juneau children.

The playground includes a tree fort, mining town, maze and ice castle. It is also accessible to all children of all abilities.

But this dream can't happen without help. The build days for the project are May 15-19 and May 22-26. At least 150 volunteers are needed for each of the three shifts every day and 300 volunteers are needed for each shift during the Saturday work days. This is no small feat. The good news is that anyone can participate. No experience is needed and there are several areas to be put to use.

An individual can volunteer, but this also provides an opportunity for businesses and organizations to pull together for a good cause. Volunteers can join in to help at any time, but committee members would appreciate advance notice to ease their minds as to the amount of help they will have.

And while bodies are an important asset, construction cannot be done without tools. More than 750 tools are needed for the 10-day building period. Tools that are loaned to the project will be returned in the condition they were given or better.

A list of what is needed as well as volunteer forms are available online at www.juneauplayground.com.

The community already has done a great deal to see the project come this far, according to committee member Jolene Julian. The financial goal has been 95 percent met, and lunch and dinner for 150 people for each meal for 10 days has been provided by local businesses.

Juneau's children are noticing the momentum of the project, too. I was going to an event with my 8-year-old friend Alison when we drove by Twin Lakes the other day.

"I think they're getting to build the playground," she said with excitement. "How are they going to do it?"

I said that it was going to take a lot of people many days, but when it was finished, it would be worth it. I told her that I planned on helping build the playground with my co-workers at Capital City Weekly. She looked at me with a puzzling stare - probably because she's seen how I'm not the most graceful person. "You're crazy," she said, laughing. "But I'm glad you're going to help. They're going to need a lot of people. Just don't get hurt," she warned before telling me that as soon as the playground was constructed we would play there. I'm counting on it!

Amanda Gragert is editor at Capital City Weekly. Send her e-mail to amanda.gragert@capweek.com.


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