The Mountain Times

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National program, Let Them Be Kids, to help Rutland build a playground in a day

RUTLAND - White's Park is home to a popular and well-maintained pool as well as tennis and basketball courts. But one thing that has been missing in recent years is a playground on-site. Seven years ago, the city removed wooden playground equipment because of safety concerns and it was not replaced.

However, Tuesday, July 2, the Rutland Recreation and Parks Department announced that the City of Rutland has received a reward from the international charitable program called Let Them Be Kids. The award will match funds raised by donations and also provide a coach to make sure money is spent as efficiently as possible. Let Them Be Kids is an expert at building playgrounds in areas of need; the Canadian based organization has overseen 160 projects in North America since 2008.

Rutland was chosen as one of the 30 recipients this year amongst the hundreds of applicants. "It really says something about our city when both the citizens of Rutland and international organizations believe in Rutland," said Mayor Chris Louras speaking at White's Park Tuesday. "I'm thrilled that we received such a competitive award."

Perhaps the most impressive part of the planned development is the fact that this playground will be built in one day. Similar to a barn-raising 100 years ago, this project will be a demonstration of community involvement and volunteerism. Not only will community members be hands-on participants but they will also have their say in the design process. In the next month, local children will be asked for ideas on how the playground should look and then vote on the new features. The city plans to include some adaptive elements as well.

"We want to build an inclusive playground that can be used by all children, no matter their abilities," said Cindi Wight, Rutland's recreation director.

The big "Build Day" is scheduled for August 8, 2013 from 1-8 p.m. For more information on how to volunteer, make a contribution or to receive more information, visit Rutland.letthembekids.org or call 802-282-1092.