Noah’s Playground takes shape

Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
Tony Shadwick of the recreation equipment company, Penchura, gives direction to volunteers Keith Wright and Jacob Meyers as they prepare to install the ABC Climber at Cowling Park in London.

(Posted June 15, 2017)

By Dedra Cordle, Staff Writer

On June 9, a group of children stood near the construction zone at Cowling Park in London with their mouths agape.

Their plan for that pleasant afternoon had been to spend time doing what they normally do at their favorite haunt: playing tag, climbing on the dome, running around, joking around, and sliding down that old blue slide.

But as they approached the play area, they were greeted by the sight of excavation machinery, dirt piles and gravel mounds, gaping holes and the displacement on the blue-coated playground structure.

In shock, they watched as nearly two dozen people carried unfamiliar equipment across the park, hammered and drilled those pieces into a newly erected structure, then repeated the process until the play area was transformed.

As the initial surprise wore off, the children came to the realization that their beloved park was getting a playground makeover with lots of cool new features. Their excitement was palpable.

“This is going to be so great,” they repeatedly gushed.

What they did not know at the time was that this new play area has the potential to become even greater in the future.

What was occurring throughout the day on June 9 was Phase II of Access Cowling, a community and businesses fundraising campaign whose mission is to bring a large and inclusive playground to the city of London.

Paul Crawford steadies an instrument in the Rhapsody Musical Garden as fellow volunteers pour cement.

In Phase I, Cowling Park saw the installation of a multi-purpose walking path, the addition of five sensory learning walls, and installation of an adaptive swing set to meet the needs of children with disabilities.

In Phase II, the focus was on the play area which saw the installation of an accessible rising structure with interactive equipment such as the Roller Slide, the Pod Bridge and the ABC Climber. A Rhapsody Music Garden for the musically inclined or curious was installed just a few feet away.

In Phases III to V, the plan calls for expansion of the playground structure by including additional interactive equipment so children of all physical and mental abilities can strike up new friendships as they play.

Amy Rees, the administrative assistant for the city, said she is excited by the progress that has been made thus far and looks forward to the day where the playground—named Noah’s Playground in memory of Noah Daniel Hagmeier—is completely realized.

According to Rees, Access Cowling has raised approximately $140,000 for the project. The goal is $400,000, which would allow completion of all five phases.

Rees said she has no doubt the community will rise to the occasion.

“This is a generous community where people always help each other out,” she said. “There are a lot of good feelings and good will for this project because it means so much to so many people.”

There are two ways to donate to Access Cowling. The first method is by sending a check or money order to Access Cowling, c/o Madison County Future Inc., 730 Keny Blvd., London, OH 43140. The second method is via a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/2rjfyes.

Cowling Park is located on North Main Street in downtown London.

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