You can never be too young to slip down a slide. So last weekend I took my 8-month-old son to a brand-spanking new milliondollar playground not far from our house with the intention of introducing him to the wonders of swings, see-saws and slides.
I’m not even kidding. There were literally hundreds of children there. Hundreds. And everyone one of them was laughing gleefully as they hogged the swings, see-saws and slides my 8-month-old desperately wanted to play on (read: his mother desperately wanted to play on).
I quickly got over my disappointment though, because the sheer enormity of this playground is impressive – and I’m not talking about the size of it. What makes this playground remarkable is where the money came from to make it happen. One local family donated $500,000 towards the project. The council contributed a comparatively small $100,000 and the rest was raised through donations and fundraising. Now that’s a lot of sausage sizzles.
This awesome playground with its towers, slides and giant hamster wheel (I know, right?!) is a prime example of the power of the collective – when people see a need in their community, and just make it happen. This generous family didn’t take ‘‘no’’ for an answer when the council had reservations about their playground idea; they gathered a group of community-conscious people together and just did it.
Communities all over the country could take this attitude to heart. We might moan about the amount of rubbish that we see on the sides of our roads, or how much graffiti appears in a certain part of town overnight. We might worry that many local families don’t have enough access to fresh veges – or that our kids are growing up to believe that peas come from a freezer, not a garden. We might notice kids who don’t have anything to eat at lunchtime when our own kids’ bags are overflowing with food.
Do you know what? Yes, our local councils should fix some of these problems, but if we really care enough to complain about them, maybe we could do something about them too. We could ask a local building supplies company to donate some paint to a community group that wants to paint over graffiti. We could establish a community garden that offers veges in exchange for planting a few seeds or removing a few weeds. We could launch a ‘‘breakfast in schools’’
It took a collective effort to get this playground built.