Many of us look at children and wonder where their seemingly endless amounts of energy come from. We can see that children have a need to be active, and they often look for ways to expend their enormous supply of energy. The need to use their active imagination and actively play appears to play a vital role for children's mental, physical, and social development. For many children, local parks and playgrounds are a great way for them to explore and play while interacting with others; however, not all children have access to those much-needed resources. A lot of children, especially those living in cities, may be very limited when it comes to outdoor space. Without safe and adequate surroundings, children's development could be hindered. The residents of Franklinton, Louisiana should consider investing in the revitalization and expansion of its current playground to benefit the younger generation of the community through the use of volunteers, fundraisers, and grants available for community projects.
Some of the most important developments in a child's life begin at an early age. Living in a healthy environment which provides access to safe, outdoor play space is likely to promote a strong advancement in these areas. According to Gunseli Yildirim and Guzin Ozyilmaz Akamca from the Department of Early Childhood at Dokuz Eylül University, they state in their article, 'The Effect of Outdoor Learning Activities on the Development of Preschool Children,' 'An effective interaction of children's development both physically and cognitively with their physical environment can lead to the opportunities to perform independently at their corresponding developmental stages' (Yildirim and Akamca). Children have a need for safe and adequate space in their own environment along with positive experiences to have better development and to benefit their own well-being. As Yildirim and Akamca also state in their article, 'Outdoor spaces help children to develop skills related to the scientific research process like making inferences, measuring and observing' (Yildirim and Akamca). By creating a safe, physical environment for the children of the community, it gives parents the link they need for their children to be active and secure throughout their community. Improving the current playground by restoring the one currently in place and with the addition of a new play space, the tremendous amounts of energy children have will be made useful for their learning and development.
Another benefit that comes from actively playing is the interactions with others which provides much-needed social skills. Having a place for the children of the community to come together and make new friends while playing is likely to bring a sense of belonging to them. According to Khaidzir Haji Ismail, Abdul Rahman Ahmad Badayai, and K. Rubini Kulasingam from the Centre of Psychology and Human Well-being, they state in their article, 'Children Development and Well-being: A Review of Environmental Stressors in Children Physical Environment,'
As children play outdoors, they will develop personal relationships with the environment in which they are in contact. The children personalize their physical environment in such a manner that the street becomes their home street, the yard becomes their backyard, and the village becomes their home. (Ismail, Badayai, and Kulasingam, 4)
Parents and children alike can come together through the use of this space and build a camaraderie as a result of this project. The proposed playground will provide a positive, interactive surrounding which is expected to become a big factor in the progression of the children's development while also enhancing their social skills. Bringing the children of the community together helps to create more interpersonal relationships and build a closer, more family-like community.
While many people in communities often looks for ways to help others, one way they do so is through volunteering. For many people, including those involved in clubs and churches, outreach programs are a great point of contact with their surrounding neighborhoods. Many have found that working together to strengthen a neighborhood through improvements and enhancements of the community is beneficial to everyone. With a leader assigned to the volunteering and planning committee, adults in the community who are willing to help can be enlisted and assigned to their roles. According to Kaboom.org, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to bringing balanced and active play to the daily lives of all kids, the average playground could be completed in 6-8 hours with the help of around 100 volunteers (KaBoom.org). With the support of the outreach programs in the community, the number of volunteers needed can be easily attained. While some may be concerned about the continued maintenance and upkeep of the completed project, the KaBoom.org website also states that, 'By getting the community involved, there is greater ownership, which increases the continual maintenance down the road' (KaBoom.org). Having the community involved to create an updated and expanded playground for the children will help give those volunteers a desire to maintain all the improvements they helped to accomplish. With the assistance of these selfless volunteers, the expansion and revitalization of the current playground is possible.
Along with a large group of volunteers, donations from businesses and individuals will also be required to assist in building Franklinton's playground. With the assistance of the internet, reaching individuals for the funds to acquire the materials is an easy task. As Bryan Miller, a marketing and fundraising strategist at Cancer Research UK, states in his article, 'Community Fundraising 2.0--the Future of Fundraising in a Networked Society,' 'Simply upload something to their online social network profile or update their status field to mention what they are doing for their favorite charity and this flows out into the news feeds of everyone in their network' (Miller, 3). With the number of people who flock to social media daily, many in the community will be reached and given access to make their donations to this project. Being able to reach the people in the community will be facilitated through creating a Facebook page announcing the proposed project and the goal needed to be reached. As donations are made through a GoFundMe account, the donations received will be available for others to see, encouraging other members and businesses in the community to donate as well.
To assist in the funds needed, non-profit, community projects are eligible for grants to help fund their child-serving programs. One grant opportunity the Franklinton playground project is eligible for is through KaBoom. KaBoom offers 'up to $15,000 towards the total cost of the playground equipment' (KaBoom.org). KaBoom also states that as a recipient of the grant, grantees 'will have the support of a remote KaBoom Grants Manager and an onsite Certified Playground Installer' (KaBoom.org). Since the town of Franklinton has a strong need for improvements to the existing playground in order to provide a safe play space for the children of the community, the proposed project fits perfectly into the category of those eligible for grants through KaBoom. To obtain the $15,000 grant from KaBoom, the community will need to raise an additional $9,000 to help with the purchase of the addition to the current playground (KaBoom.org). While that may seem like a large sum of money to many people, the benefits the children of the community will receive from this newly created space is unmeasurable.
As a community, the residents of Franklinton need to be active participants in creating a space for their children; one that is safe and inviting where they can connect with each other and enjoy the local community. Seeing the town come together for the greater good of the children will surely give the residents, young and old, a sense of pride. As the children in Franklinton see the community build this space for them and future generations, it will provide an admirable example of what they themselves should aspire to do in their communities from here on.
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