Plans for the building of a new playground designed by Vilonia children are set for April 18, almost one year after the tornado that swept through the area damaged the playground that sat in Soaring Eagle Memorial Park. “The City removed the damaged playground so the new one could be built, and we had all the kids from the school draw the playground of their dreams,” said Amanda Norwood of Vilonia Parks and Recreation.
She said 30 drawings were chosen as finalists, and the children who drew them were invited to create a final plan for the playground in February. The City met with the children and their parents to decide what playground features were most liked and most feasible, so the three final drawings were a combination of ideas from the 30 finalists.
The final designs were provided by a grant from KaBOOM!, a nonprofit organization that brings playgrounds to underprivileged communities to encourage active play for children. “Following last year’s tornado, Kimberly-Clark and KaBOOM! chose to build a playground in the City of Vilonia to help kids get the childhood they deserve,” said Bruno Tager, communications coordinator for KaBoom!. “By building this play space, we are helping bring back joy and play to more than 2,100 kids in Vilonia.”
After the three final plans were complete, KaBOOM! offered a survey for Vilonia citizens to vote on their favorite plan.
Kimberly Clark’s Scotts Naturals brand provided funding for all playground equipment, and volunteers from Kimberly-Clark and the local community will gather to build the playground on April 18.
“This hasn’t cost Vilonia anything,” Norwood said. “Kimberly-Clark wanted the actual cost to be anonymous, so we don’t have those figures. From looking at the drawings, I can tell you that the total cost is well over $200,000.”
She said the company also waived the typical $8,500 fundraising requirement they have in place for most projects.
The 2,918-square-foot playground will accommodate 59 children between the ages of 2 and 12. Along with the traditional swings, sliding pole, ladder climber and tic-tac-toe station, the design includes an inclined cliffhanger, tube slide, scavenger hunt panel, telescope, stalagmite climber and “spinami,” which is an upright spinning whirl with rope netting.
A kickoff ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 18, at Soaring Eagle Memorial Park in Vilonia. A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for 2:30 p.m.