Do you really know what goes into keeping a park in good condition and safe? Probably a lot more work than you think.
Taking care of the playground portion of a park alone takes a lot of time and effort. In addition to common tasks such as weeding, mowing the grass and repairing anything that breaks, every few years you need to scrape the old paint off the playground equipment and sand and repaint it. It’s also a good idea to spruce up the area by adding new mulch.
Sounds easy, right? Simple?
No. It's not.
I can tell you from experience, and so can many other people, that taking care of a park and reconditioning it every few years takes a lot of time and effort.
You may ask, "Why is it so hard? It sounds so simple!"
Well maybe it does sound simple, but just let me explain.
Another question you may ask is, "Why do you have to recondition the park? Isn't it fine how it is?" While you may think it's fine, others don't. Having the paint peel up not only looks terrible, but can escalate into a safety hazard if you don't do anything about it. Who wants that to happen? To put it simply, if the paint peels, rain comes into contact with the metal underneath. Water rusts the metal, and then if a kid were to get a wound because of that, they could get tetanus. Or, if left long enough, the rust could dissolve the joints and the equipment could collapse. If that happened when a kid was playing on it... Well, you get my point.
OK, so now you say, "I get why you have to recondition the playground equipment, but what do weeding and mulching have to do with reconditioning?" Good question. One reason is because weeds not only look terrible, but they can be a safety hazard too! Who wants their kid to fall on a spiky plant that's not even supposed to be there? Ouch! And yes, kids are going to fall. The mulch helps prevent weed growth and provides a more comfortable landing zone for those kids who will fall. Although the mulch is there, there will be a few stubborn weeds that will grow through it, which is why you remove the weeds before mulching. And yes, weeds are stubborn and bound to grow back, so you will have to weed periodically.
Some of you may be thinking about the money aspect at this point. Buying fewer paint cans, (by default fewer colors) so that there isn't any leftover paint may seem like a good idea to you. But there is a method to the madness of how playground equipment is painted. Many people don't know this, but the main reason that playgrounds are painted in many different colors is: for kids who are partially color-blind. That way a kid who's Blue/Green color blind can still see the rest of the colors. Other reasons are because more colors make the park more exciting! Who wants to go to a boring park?! The bright colors help with that too. So what if there is a can of paint leftover between all the different colors? Plus, if anything happens to the paint, you have some spare to touch up!
So now that you know why we have to do all sorts of upkeep for the park, I'll tell you how much work actually goes into making it happen.
For my Girl Scout Gold Award Project, I reconditioned the playground equipment at Hillside Park. Some of you may be familiar with the Girl Scout Gold Award, but for those of you who don't know, it is made up of three main components. The first in doing research about an issue in your community, it could be building something or changing or fixing something that already exists. The second is doing a service project, which has to involve other people and help the community issue you researched, leaving a lasting impact. The third component is awareness about the community issue you are helping to fix. All of that has to take at least eighty hours.
Reconditioning the park's playground equipment may not sound like a huge project, but it is. And it's a lot of hard work. I had volunteers working at the park for 7 different days, with anywhere from 4 to 9 people working at one time. Considering how much help I had, that's a lot of hours! Day one consisted of scraping as much old paint as possible from the equipment, and sanding as much of the equipment as possible. Day two was more scraping and sanding, and painting began. Days 3-5 were just painting, day 6 was just mulching and day 7 was mulching and painting. For details about each day, go to http://katiegoldaward.blogspot.com/
This project involved getting to the park to begin working at 8:30 every morning. We would work for an average of over six hours thirty minutes each day, with of course taking a lunch break to avoid working in the hottest part of the day. While a lot of hard work, it was and still is, incredibly rewarding to have done. Many, many people had come up to us while we were working and telling us how much they appreciate everything we are doing. Making such a fantastic impact on people's lives is what the Girl Scout Gold Award is about, and I believe this project has done just that, for all my helpers, everyone who goes to the park, the DPW workers, and I. It has been a pleasure and I've had a wonderful time doing this project.
The park now looks fantastic, and is a whole lot safer. I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of the project, which includes people from my family, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venture Scouts, 4-H, Faith Center, (A homeschool Fine Arts program) Theater Arts Camp of Sussex and the Andover DPW workers.
For pictures, go to http://tinyurl.com/mxbg7xw