[StBernard] Future engineers construct playground
westley at da-parish.com
Sun Apr 8 11:27:52 EDT 2007
Future engineers construct playground
Chalmette site now features slides, swings
Sunday, April 08, 2007
By Karen Turni Bazile
St. Bernard bureau
Seeking to give children a place to frolic as well as to help revitalize a
neighborhood hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, more than 500 Georgia Tech
students erected a playground Saturday in the heart of Chalmette.
"We are hoping the playground will be a point of hope and give the
neighborhood a point to rally around to try to come back," said Lisa
Bradway, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering major at the Atlanta school.
Since Katrina struck in August 2005, hundreds of Georgia Institute of
Technology students have been sacrificing their semester breaks to
participate in relief efforts dubbed "Geaux to the Gulf" and organized by
the university's Christian Campus Fellowship.
The volunteers have spent most of their time cleaning streets and gutting
Their Easter weekend effort will culminate today with an Easter egg hunt at
noon and a picnic at the new playground at 3400 Marietta Drive.
The playground was built with donations from the Rocky Mountain Church in
Niwot, Colo., and KaBOOM! -- a nonprofit organization dedicated to building
Prior to Katrina, the playground site was a little-used public park and at
one point contained only a swing set. It now has a 2,100-square-foot play
area featuring climbing equipment, swings and slides for children 3 to 12.
Derek Lewis, a Georgia Tech graduate who is working with the Christian
Campus Fellowship, said the playground will help revive the area.
"All these houses are gutted and are ready to be rebuilt," Bradway said. "I
hope this is an encouragement to them that we are not forgetting about them
and we want them to come back to their homes."
Parish Councilman Mark Madary, one of several St. Bernard officials who
talked with the volunteers and the KaBOOM! organizers about possible
locations for creating playgrounds, said the parish desperately needs such
Another KaBOOM! playground will be built at Community Park by Operation
Blessing, the humanitarian arm of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting
Network, which is revamping the park and an adjoining gymnasium called the
Madary said the parish's recovery is greatly hastened by such volunteer
efforts because federal recovery dollars are slow to reach the parish,
including dollars to rehabilitate damaged recreational facilities.
He was erecting temporary street signs in his neighborhood Friday and saw
children playing in the street, he said.
"The needs of the kids are going unmet," Madary said. "If it weren't for
groups coming in to help us, these kids wouldn't have these opportunities."
Lewis said his volunteers wanted to sponsor an Easter egg hunt and picnic
for hurricane victims, but they also wanted to leave a lasting mark on the
community and thought the playground was the way to do it.
The Georgia Tech volunteers will come back to work with CrossRoads Mission,
a group that housed and fed half the volunteers in an unused school in
Chalmette, Lewis said.
"It's the beginning of a partnership with Georgia Tech and other groups to
further support Katrina relief," he said.
. . . . . . .
Karen Turni Bazile may be reached at kturni at timespicayune.com or (504)
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