is a Play 4 ALL initiative that focuses on bringing residents and Law Enforcement Officers together to work cooperatively on designing and building a community wide playground.
provides children and families the opportunity to exercise, foster friendships and hone in on vital developmental skills. Play is a great equalizer that powerfully and neutrally reaches people.
Play connects people, transcends boundaries and speaks to our universal humanity.
Regardless of people’s origin, race, socioeconomic status or ability, play bridges presumed differences and fosters connections. Playgrounds build confidence, strengthens character and provides a valuable service each and every day for the community at large.
The City of Ferguson leadership including Mayor and Police Chief, St. Louis area Fraternal Order of Police, Ferguson Parks and Recreation Department, community youth and local residents all came together in a cooperative effort to build a playground, and bring the power of play to the Ferguson Community Center on September 29, 2016.
On Wednesday, March 29, 2017 county residents, youth and local leaders joined Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Metro Division, and Cunningham Recreation for the second Healing Communities Through Play™ playground build at Druid Hills Park, 2801 Poinsett St. in Charlotte, NC. More than 100 volunteers worked together; police, youth and residents side by side, to build a playground.
“It’s a small idea, but one that can hopefully change negative perceptions and have a positive impact on our local communities,” says Officer Chelsea Kidder with the CMPD.
On June 9, 2017, Play 4 ALL, a division of Cunningham Recreation, accomplished its third Healing Communities Through Play ™ project in Rockford, IL. Together with the Rockford Parks Dept., Rockford PD, County Sheriff’s office, and Sharefest volunteers, a brand new playground was built in Levings Park. Local installer, Custom Playgrounds, generously donated their labor and equipment to prep the land and to supervise the volunteer driven build.
“The Healing Communities playground build was a great success. The project brought together a variety of members of the community to renovate a playground in need of rejuvenation. I’m grateful for the support and assistance from the volunteers, both Sharefest and law enforcement, Custom Playgrounds, GameTime and Cunningham Recreation. We couldn’t have done it without them. Many hands truly do make light work,” says Tom Lind, LA for Rockford Park District.
Law enforcement came out in droves and stayed throughout the day to ensure that the job was complete. Local children could not wait for the remaining safety surfacing to be laid before dangling, sliding and swinging on the play elements. The teaming up of these sectors is paramount to the success of a Healing Communities project. At the end of the day, the playground is only an instrument to something much larger!
Sheri Schjolberg, Principal of Danforth Elementary knew that the school’s playground was falling into major disrepair. She also knew that the Riverview Gardens school district did not have funds in their budget for a new playground. A committed volunteer saw the local news story covering Play 4 ALL’s work in Ferguson, Missouri and their new Healing Communities Through Play™ initiative. One phone call and all the pieces fell into place. St. Louis City and County police officers stepped up immediately and funds began to come in slated for a new playground. Pleasantly surprised, one St. Louis family gifted $75,000.
The Community Build happened on July 21st, 2017, one of the hottest days of summer. With temps reaching over 104 degrees, over 140 volunteers flooded in to make sure a new playground welcomed the Danforth students back to school the following month. Helping do the heavy lifting, River View Gardens Varsity and Jr. Varsity football team joined the officers and community volunteers. “It’s a day that I will never forget” said an officer that was recently wounded while on duty. “There is so much good in the world”.