Votes Sought, Donations Welcome as Servant Leadership Students Eye Community Playground Construction

YouTube video on playground projectCOLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus State University Servant Leadership students are drumming up votes through November in hopes of capturing a grant to help 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 $250,000, the top prize in the monthly Pepsi Refresh Challenge.

Online voting runs through November.To vote for the playground project, text "104092" to the number 73774 (standard text-messaging rates may apply) or go to http://www.refresheverything.com and type "Columbus State University” in the upper right corner search box. click the CSU project page, register and vote. Voters may select their preference daily, through November.

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.