February 15, 2010

Inspiration Monday: Leading the way to play

For most of us, Presidents Day is a day off from work and a time to relax and spend time with family and friends, or maybe it is a day to get that last pile of snow out of the driveway! Whatever you plan to do, make it a playful day. Also, reflect on what Presidents Day is about. For me, it is about recognizing great leaders of our country who, despite very difficult circumstances rallied a nation to overcome them. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were incredible leaders who never gave up and kept the vision of a better tomorrow alive in their words and actions. This same spirit and determination can also be seen and heard in communities all over the country. Leaders are stepping up to make change happen, and community members become leaders as they stand up and take action to better their community.

An example of a community and its members standing up to make change happen can be found in Birmingham, Ala. As a part of a plan to revitalize an impoverished and underserved area of Birmingham, the YWCA of Central Alabama established an initiative called “YWoodlawn” which will provide low-income and transitional housing for families experiencing homelessness or economic struggles. The YWCA believes in the power of play and envisioned the role a playground would serve for teachers/caregivers during the day and for parents and relatives at night. Their vision became a reality on November 5, 2009, as 260 volunteers from the community and The Home Depot came together to build a great place to play.

Although the playground has only been around for three months, the impact on the community can already be seen and heard. One community member that was very involved in the planning, but could not be at the build is thrilled to see the impact. This community member lives right near the playground and has been over there every day after the build. He described his feelings about the playground in such an inspiring way: “Once I realized how much of a surge this project would be for this neighborhood and the people who live here I realized I don’t want to give that up . . . I want this to continue to be about more than just a playground but to be about bringing new and wonderful things into these kids’ lives all the time.”

You can see pictures of the YWCA of Central Alabama playground build here!

Inspiration Monday is a regular KaBOOM! blog feature.

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