Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Playground built by, for, all

Volunteers create 'riverboat' accessible to every child

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Taylor Mill artist Tammy Stephens works on her mural of a 1940 riverfront scene, including the Suspension Bridge and the city skyline, that will anchor part of the Every Child's Playground at Sawyer Point.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
DOWNTOWN - For the next five days, 2,000 volunteers will swarm Bicentennial Commons at Sawyer Point to build a child's dream: a gigantic riverboat playground complete with play village, climbing mural, music space and - of course - swings.

Among the volunteers on hand Tuesday as the first posts for Every Child's Playground were planted was 62-year-old Silvio Abenti of Columbia Township, who was building a deck for the boat.

"I love doing this,'' said Abenti, who owns Small Jobs Con Amore. "As long as it is something to help children, I will willingly volunteer.''

The 10,500-square-foot custom playground - located under the Interstate 471 bridge - should be completed Sunday, said Wayne Lurix, coordinator for the 1,000 Hands Project, which is building the complex.

Lurix is working on his sixth children's playground in Cincinnati. "We started with about 75 (volunteers) this morning,'' he said. "A lot of the volunteers are from local companies.''

The playground was designed with children with disabilities in mind and includes many ramps - but it's challenging enough for all kids, Lurix said. "It is designed so kids with disabilities can play along with other kids,'' he said.

Every Child's Playground is located between the volleyball court and the P&G Pavilion.

Tammy Stephens of TBS Fine Arts in Latonia designed the mural, which includes handles so kids can climb it sideways.

"The sketch on the wall will show a Cincinnati river scene of 1940,'' Stephens said. "It shows steamboats, the Suspension Bridge, and a skyline of the city in the background.''

The new playground is part of the Cincinnati Recreation Commission's $850,000 refurbishing of central riverfront parks.

Lurix said Every Child's Playground will cost about $500,000 in money and in-kind contributions, not including the volunteer services.

The playground will be dedicated at 3 p.m. Sept. 20.


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