Children to get improved playground

Little children playing happily in the sun see a Big Toy and imagine a mountain to climb, a forest to play hide ‘n seek, or a safari to explore.

That appeal struck the 25 members of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce’s Advancing Leadership Class of 2002 as it searched for a legacy project for their group. They chose an improved playground at Birth to Three Developmental Center, a school for the smallest children with disabilities.

Located in south Federal Way, the school is using an elderly Big Toy designed for older children without disabilities. It’s on a lumpy, timeworn playground with a tiny grass play area and no room to ride, push or pull wheeled toys.

Last fall, the leadership group began planning changes of the current playground’s limited capabilities to a newer, safer, larger and more appropriate place for Birth to Three’s children.

The group members worked on the planning, permitting and technical aspects of the project. They also sought the materials and the skilled labor that would be necessary to install the new play equipment. The next step is to raise the funding necessary to complete the project by the leadership class of 2002’s graduation in June.

Donations have already been made to cover the estimated $20,000 cost of the improvements. Weyerhaeuser Company has committed $1,500, Capital One is considering a request for $2,500, and SeaTac Mall has pledged $336 generated from the recent Easter Bunny Breakfast.

Work parties have been scheduled for most weekends in May to remove the old equipment and fencing, and Papa John’s Pizza has promised to provide food for the 25 volunteers who have signed up to help at the first work party.

Individuals, including class members, their families and community members, have donated additional funds, and other companies are being asked for in-kind donations of the materials that will be required: cement, lumber, fence posts and landscaping materials.

Donations are tax-deductible when directed to Birth to Three Playground Fund, since the organization has a 501c3 tax-exempt status. Donations can be made by contacting Maryanne Barnes, executive director of Birth to Three Developmental Center, at 874-5445, or by sending a check to Birth to Three at 35535 Sixth Place SW., Federal Way, WA 98023.

Birth to Three Developmental Center was founded as a non-profit in 1966 by four parents seeking services for their developmentally delayed children. Today it employs a staff of 19 and last year provided early intervention services for 120 developmentally delayed infants, toddlers and their families living in south King and north Pierce counties.

Nancy Hohenstein is a member of the Advancing Leadership class of 2002.

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