Make a Difference in King (MADIK) playground project is nearing its final stretch as the group prepares for community build days which begin on Sept. 26 and run through Oct. 1 at Recreation Acres. The nonprofit is expecting 100 volunteers per shift, which will consist of three shifts per day on Tuesday through Sunday.
“Volunteers don’t have to be skilled,” said lead organizer Ashley Turner. “They’ll come to the check-in tent which will be located between Fields 1 and 2 right off of the walking path. This is also the only way into the construction site. Tools will be provided. When they check-in they’ll be escorted to work on a particular job.”
There will be 11 site captains helping guide volunteers through each shift.
“We aren’t quite yet to 100 per shift each day, but we are still collecting the signup forms from individuals, churches, businesses and organizations. The more, the better,” Turner said. “The support has been overwhelming the last two weeks. We really need Tuesday and Wednesday to be our biggest day to volunteer if we are going to complete a build this big in six days. Although we would really like to have an idea how many are coming per shift, anyone may walk up, check-in and volunteer.”
Turner said MADIK is accepting sponsorship donations throughout build week and personalized pavers are still available.
“During this process there were inclusive components and features that were added. Due to those changes we are still raising funds to make sure we can include those into our final design,” she said.
For example, Turner said MADIK chose to change a lower cost plastic slide to a steel slide. The special ordered steel slide is $25,000 and has no current sponsor.
“Children with cochlear hearing implants cannot go down plastic slides. Our steel slide will add to that extra perk of why this is truly a one-of-a-kind inclusive playground. It accommodates everyone,” she said. “Our biggest need at this point is to get each component sponsored. There are features that will need to be covered that aren’t ‘components’, yet they are part of the playground. Those items include sail shades, mountain range natural play and seating area, inclusive walkways and all of the signs.”
When people have asked why she took on such a lofty project, Turner explained it’s simply something that needed to be done.
“I’m your average, busy working mom with young children. There are several parks in Stokes County, but many don’t have updated playgrounds to accommodate all children. We visited the skate park in King two years ago and after discovering there wasn’t much there for my children and others, I acted.”
She said, “I’ve lived in the King area all of my life and I currently live within the city limits. That’s why I approached the City of King. It took a lot of determination stepping outside of my comfort zone when approaching the parks and recreation committee and then the King City Council. It wasn’t until I physically got involved that I actually began to learn the process and understand how things work with budget cuts and money needing to be applied elsewhere throughout the city and county. I began to research a better solution.”
Turner looked at the King population, of around 7,000 and the county, estimated at 46,000 and knew there were compassionate people in the community willing to join in the effort.
“That’s where it began. Individuals climbed on board with the same vision and determination. A nonprofit was formed and here we are, building in two weeks,” she said. “There can be invisible dividing lines throughout this county. However, how can something positive for all children be a bad idea? It can’t. This project not only needed to happen because of children and families, but it’s helping build a future, too. We have had a great amount of local support.”
That support has seeped beyond the county as well. Businesses from Winston-Salem, Mount Airy and families in Raleigh and even Illinois have contributed to the cause.
“This project is enhancing our city and county. It’s simply proving that no matter your race, gender, disabilities, religion, political views, background or where you live, when you come together in a positive way, good things happen.”
Through the process, Turner said she’s learned more than she ever imagined about inclusive playgrounds, but she’s also learned about community. In July, she announced she’s running for a seat on the King City Council.
“I want to encourage others to be open-minded, get involved and invest in where you live,” she said. “This playground is happening because of every single individual, no matter their amount of donation, service or volunteer time. It takes a village, and we are proving that.”
Volunteer opportunities to help build MADIK’s community playground, located at Recreation Acres in King, can be found at the Make a Difference in King Facebook page or the nonprofit’s website at http://madiknc.wixsite.com/madik
The community build schedule: Sept. 26 – Oct. 1, Tuesday – Saturday: 8 a.m. – noon, 12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Sun: 8 a.m. – noon, 12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. (12-12:30 break for lunch, 5–5:30 break for dinner).
All water, coffee, snacks and food are provided through donations. The following companies are providing meals and snacks: Starbuck’s in Stanleyville, Quaker Gap Baptist Church, Dennis Ruff, Bojangles in King, Poplar Springs Church, Chestnut Grove Ruritan Club, First Baptist Church in King, Digestive Health Specialist in King, Jeffrey Adams in Winston-Salem, YMCA Camp Hanes, Kentucky Fried Chicken in King, Town & Country, Little Italy in King and Jefferson Christian Church.
Childcare will be provided through First Christian Church.
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.