HASTINGS, Neb. — With slides and swings, the dream of a playground has become reality for children staying at the Crossroads Rescue Mission, 702 W. 14th St.
The new playground was dedicated last week during an open house at Crossroads with a barbecue meal. The playground is housed in a fenced grassy area west of the building. Circling the playground is a cement race track for tricycles and other wheeled toys.
“It’s like it’s a dream,” said 13-year-old Jadyn Shoemaker of Hastings. “I can’t believe I did this.”
According to the Hastings Tribune (http://bit.ly/2d6bHmH ), the idea for the playground started when Jadyn and her fellow Girl Scouts toured the shelter in 2014. The Girl Scouts were considering a service project and Jadyn and a couple of fellow scouts came up with the idea of helping put up a playground on site.
There is a playground across the street in Highland Park at 14th Street and Hastings Avenue, but Jadyn says it is too dangerous for small children to cross 14th Street.
The scouts opted for a different project, but Jadyn — who was 10 at the time — didn’t give up on the idea.
She asked her parents, Kevin and Becky, what she could do on her own and the family met with staff at Crossroads to discuss options. Jadyn decided she wanted to try to raise the $10,000 needed to build a playground that meets the requirements for a homeless shelter.
Jadyn wrote a letter asking for donations and walked with her younger sister, Shayli, to downtown businesses asking for money. She appeared on the local television station asking for help.
Her legwork raised about $3,000 toward the playground, but additional funding was needed. Thanks to grants from Good Samaritan Village and the Snow Redfern Foundation, funding for the nearly $11,000 project was completed. Students in the Creighton University nursing program raised money for and installed a sandbox in June.
Jadyn is the first to admit she was only part of a community effort to get the project going.
Kara Cermak, development director at Crossroads, said it was exciting to see the community rally behind Jadyn’s idea.
“It’s a really special project coming from a young girl like that,” she said. “I think it motivated the community.”
After funding was secured, construction on the track began in the winter of 2015. Construction on the playground equipment began this spring and was completed by the end of July.
Crossroads executive director Jerry Bumgardner said he has been impressed by the support the community has shown the shelter through the process. He said the playground gives families a place to call their own while staying at the shelter.
“This has been phenomenal,” he said.
Jadyn had seen the playground at an earlier meeting, but last week’s open house was the first time she got to see kids using the equipment and test it out herself.
“I like it a lot,” she said. “The kids seem to enjoy it.”
Cermak said she sees families out using the area every day. A shaded area makes it easier for parents to be outside to watch the children instead of being cooped up in the building.
“It’s so good to see them outside,” she said.
Information from: Hastings Tribune, http://www.hastingstribune.com
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