Ashley Turner addressed the King City Council Monday evening and said it was difficult to put into words her appreciation for the hundreds of volunteers and supporters who helped make the inclusive playground project at Recreation Acres possible.
“I just want to thank you for believing in us to get this far,” she said. “And donating the land to make it possible.”
Turner approached the King Council two years ago after forming Make a Difference in King (MADIK), a group committed to creating positive improvements in the community, and proposed building a unique inclusive playground.
The King Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee unanimously supported her efforts and in Oct. of 2015, Mayor Jack Warren directed city staff to begin discussions with the organization as they moved forward.
Since its inception, MADIK’s fundraising efforts garnered more than $400,000 and Turner said she was blown away by the generosity of support in just the past week.
“People have given of their time and finances. I think they really understood this needed to be done,” she said.
The community worked together to build the inclusive park in just six days beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 26 and finishing Sunday afternoon, Oct. 1.
“Some people came every day. Some came one or two days, but when they showed up they made a huge difference,” Turner said.
The steady stream of volunteers worked alongside designated site captains who were given multiple tasks to meet daily goals.
Turner said for the first few days temperatures were warm and she was appreciative of the food coordinators who helped workers stay safe and hydrated. Towards the end, the NC weather shifted and it became a little cooler, proving to be a needed relief.
The park is made up of 74 components which include traditional play structures, pieces of art, music, sensory items and tidbits of community history.
“It’s setup for different ages and it offers something for everyone,” she said
The park is slated to open in November after it passes safety inspections and rubber surfacing is installed.
Although the project is nearing its end, Turner said MADIK will continue to invest in the community.
“We want to provide and build blessing boxes throughout the county. The first one will be built out of the scraps left from the playground and we’ll have it setup at the park,” she said, “This was a big project, but there are lots of things we can do on a smaller scale. We certainly know we can come together and get it done.”
The King City Council thanked Turner and her committees for accomplishing what they originally set out to do.
“It’s a proud moment in the City of King,” said Mayor Warren. “We’re looking forward to opening day and a big ceremony. Everybody did a great job.”
Councilman Wesley Carter added, when tragedies arise, communities often rally together.
“I’m just thankful it didn’t take a tragedy to bring King together; all it took was a playground.”
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.