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For the small town of Brylivka the Mega-Playground Project has united the community around the renovation of the town’s central park and provided locals with a family-friendly play area.
Brylivka is one of seven settlements of the Vinogradiv unified district in the Kherson region. With nearly a third of the entire population of the district living in the town, local young families were faced with a problem: what to do about the lack of park area for families.
“I became a parent not that long ago and I saw immediately that we have a problem: there is nowhere to take your child out for a walk! Why should young parents be stuck with taking our kids to a kindergarten playground after classes let out? We don’t have any play areas and there are lots of kids.” That’s how one local parent put it as she solicited support for an a solution to the problem in an appeal on social media.
From that spark a local group initiative put together an action plan that envisioned a family play space. People began to join the effort, offering their “sweat” and their financial and other support. For minimal expense we had installed four park benches and two rubbish bins; locals provided all the materials and both the carpenter and the welder donated their labour.
Evheniy Hladky of the Kherson Region’s Alliance Foundation says, “we started with nothing but got something done. The British Council provided us with the motivation to keep going and with support from their Active Citizens programme we were able to install a wooden children’s play area. Our town council also helped out a great deal more than we had expected them to and with their support we were able to purchase two additional metal play sets and merry-go-rounds. A local business contributed fifteen tonnes of sand and our sandbox went up at almost no cost. Two families who live near the play area have taken maintenance for the space on themselves and they keep it clean. Local parents also keep an eye on things.”
Local activists weren’t finished after receiving financial support from the British Council. The work of the Active Citizens programme inspired the effort to revitalize the town’s central park. This past spring volunteers planted trees on the territory and the park has been turned into one of the town’s major gathering spots.
Hladky goes on: “This project worked because it isn’t something we cooked up but was a response to the needs of the community. Using our experience, we simply harnessed the energy of people connecting on Facebook into productive dialogue and an action plan. This is the largest project (of ten) accomplished where the public was directly involved.”
The organization and local residents have even more ideas in the works: to add more playground equipment, benches, public art, lighting, a fountain and to host outdoor film screenings.
THE PROJECT’S SECRETS OF SUCCESS
- Volunteer spirit