Liberty City kids to get safe space for exercise and fun

caines | 3/28/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Volunteers to build playground benefiting hundreds of youth Every child deserves a place where they can play safely no matter what neighborhood they may live in. And after a door-to-door survey taken by staff members of the Miami Childrens Initiative [MCI] revealed that the number one concern of most mothers in Liberty City is not having a playground close to their homes where kids can run and jump safely, MCIs Managing Director Cecilia Gutierrez Abety went into action. And on Saturday, March 30 beginning at 8:30 a.m., volunteers from local businesses, non-profit organizations and families from Liberty City will team up to build a playground. The project will be spearheaded by KaBoom, a national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play; MCI, a non-profit whose mission is to transform the lives of those living in Liberty City; the Knight Foundation; and Imagination Playground. The playground will change the lives of over 200 children who live in the Annie Coleman Garden Apartment Complex [5905 NW 19th Avenue] or in single-family homes that are located directly adjacent to the public housing facility. The playground is being built on 19th Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets and encompasses an area that we refer to as an MCI impact zone, Abety said. We began here because this area is in dire need of health care, youth development programs, opportunities for employment, quality education and as our mothers have said, safe places for children and families. We plan to keep going two blocks at a time this is just the beginning. When Abety started talking to some of the mothers, she learned that children were sometimes throwing rocks at cars out of sheer boredom. Meanwhile, the playground that is across the street from the public housing facility is closed and smaller children couldnt get onto the basketball courts as they are dominated by older youth. KaBoom was in the process of planning the building of three new playgrounds when I called them last December, so we prepared our application and were fortunate enough to be given a grant, Abety said. After that I went back to the parents and told them that we needed them to really get involved. The specifications of the playground were chosen based on their needs. They participated in weekly meetings and all of the children and their parents will be there Saturday as we build the playground together. A private donor gave the property to MCI for the purpose of building the playground. And if things go according to plan, the playground will be completed and ready for kids to enjoy by Saturday afternoon. A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com