Residents of the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans started off the New Year with a sparkling new, state-of-the-art, child-safe playground, thanks to the efforts of Operation Kids and partners Allstate Foundation, Injury Free Coalition for Kids and New Orleans Recreation Department. It’s all part of our joint effort to finish rebuilding six playgrounds in Katrina-damaged sections of the Crescent City over the next two years.
I had the pleasure of traveling to New Orleans around Christmas to participate in the community build day. Nearly 100 residents of Bywater turned out for the early morning event at Markey Park. The formerly neglected and overgrown space in one of New Orleans’ most densely populated communities has been slowly reclaimed during the past months as neighbors joined together make it a social and family gathering place once again. Markey Park now hosts art fairs and other community events and has been popular with families and dog owners. The playground, complete with swings, slides, exercise areas and other elements will now make it a magnet for small children as well.My primary job was to help dig post holes for the equipment. Our task was complicated by the foundation of an old building that we hit about a foot down, but in the end we got through it and safely erected the colorful and strong playground equipment. I came away sore and dirty, but made a lot of new friends, too!
The playground was dedicated on January 3. New Orleans city councilmembers Arnie Fielkow and James Carter were among those participating in the ceremony.
Our New Orleans partnership plans to build another playground in the spring. We are in the process of picking that location now.
Markey Park makes the second playground the partnership has rebuilt in New Orleans. We dedicated the Lyons Center Park playground in January 2008.
The Injury Free Coalition for Kids and playground equipment manufacturer Little Tykes should be applauded for the safe and high quality equipment they provide for the playgrounds. We also recognize the Allstate Foundation for its tremendous generosity, and for the difference it makes in communities across the nation.