City of Knoxville
Known as the "Gateway to the Smokies" (or the Great Smoky Mountains), Knoxville has always faced tricky topography when it comes to building recreation facilities such as greenways or playgrounds. A team of local partners in Knoxville is using the KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge as a catalyst to build embankment slides within Knoxville's inevitable hills to encourage active lifestyles through everyday play. The slides will be built near existing City infrastructure stairs to promote exercise as children and adults ride the slides again and again. Once the first slide is built at the centrally located Coliseum parking garage, a social media campaign will be launched to gain insight from the public for other potential sites to build more of Knoxville's Downtown Slides.
This initial project will be installed adjacent to the existing stairs of parking garage A at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum. A survey was conducted along with a vote for the type of slide to be used with the children participating in the Summer Playground Program at Cal Johnson Recreation Center. The majority of the children at this center live in the Vista at Summit Hill, which is housing adjacent to the Coliseum parking garage. 68.33% of the children surveyed ride the Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) buses (major bus stop at the Knoxville Station, adjacent to the Coliseum, recreation center and across the street from Vista at Summit Hill) and 68.33% ride KAT's free trolley service (primary stop for two lines in front of the Coliseum parking garage). If this is consistent with the rest of the area's population, the location of this slide would be ideal to provide an unexpected play opportunity in a place where families are standing or sitting as they wait for the trolley.
The Downtown Slides will also impact the thousands attending hundreds of events at the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum, which include Disney on Ice, Ice Bears professional hockey games and youth dance recitals held every weekend in the spring. This will promote interaction between neighbors of the area and visitors from the region.
In addition to the in-ground slide, in-ground metal hoops will be installed in the pattern of a ladder following the slide so that children will use it to climb back up the hill as an alternative to the stairs. This will promote upper body strength, which local gym teachers are saying is a declining strength among children who very rarely climb trees and monkey bars today.
- Kathleen Gibi