Servant Leadership Students Still Pursuing Community Playground Grant

COLUMBUS, Ga. – After one round of public voting, Columbus State University Servant Leadership students are still in the running for a $250,000 grant to fund a unique, community playground in Columbus.  

The Servant Leadership Program’s 2011 senior class project, a “Bridging the Gap Community Playground,” is on a ballot of nationwide projects vying for the top prize in the monthly Pepsi Refresh Challenge.

The project was one of the top 100 vote-getters last month and now students are again asking for help in in the form of online votes. Columbus State’s project is now part of an “alliance” of playgrounds voting for each other.

“We have made it very simple to vote,” said Stuart Rayfield, director of CSU’s Servant Leadership Program. “All you will need to do is go to http://bit.ly/columbusstate. When you go to this page, 10 playgrounds will come up.  All you have to do is sign in like normal and then vote for all 10.”

Voters also can TEXT "104092" to PEPSI (73774) daily throughout December.

The contest entry is part of the students’ $600,000 fund-raising campaign for the playground, to be built behind the Columbus Public Library and including accommodations for children with disabilities. Planned features include all-weather electronic games, dinosaur bones, a playweb for net climbing, climbing walls, elevated sand tables and other unique pieces, in addition to traditional playground equipment.

The blueprint also calls for twin wheelchair-accessible ramps, plus surfacing to accommodate wheelchairs. The electronic play elements involve children running or wheeling to and from various spots.

Proposed to open in May 2011, the project is designed to bring together children from all socioeconomic backgrounds for physical exercise in a central Columbus location adjacent to the city’s main library.

The Muscogee County School Board approved the playground’s location on school district grounds and will monitor and maintain the site with seed money raised by the CSU students. MCSD Superintendent Susan Andrews said board members were “very impressed” with the efforts of the students and goals they outlined. “The children of Columbus, students with and without disabilities, will benefit from having an area such as this on which to interact and play,” she said.

Besides voting for the project online, community members or organizations also can support the effort by purchasing equipment or a puzzle piece to a commemorative marker to recognize project donors. Equipment donors also will be cited on project markers at or near the equipment piece.

CSU Servant Leadership Program (http://servant.colstate.edu/) students have amassed more than 100,000 community service hours in the program’s 10-year history. Those hours include senior class projects, designed and carried out by the students.

For more information or to contribute to the Bridging the Gap Community Playground, call 706-507-8773 or e-mail  rayfield_stuart@ColumbusState.edu.