Kids in Western New York will soon have some really unusual outdoor play areas. They come from the latest installment of cash from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, through KaBOOM! - a national non-profit dedicated to ensuring all kids have a childhood filled with balanced and active play.
More Ralph Wilson money and more playgrounds across Western New York, places for all kids to get away from their screens and just do what kids have done for millennia: play.
This $1 million will pay for 22 playgrounds in Western New York and Southeast Michigan around Wilson's home outside Detroit. KaBOOM! Associate Director for Foundations and Inititatives Leah Drew said the ground rule was for a community to submit creative design ideas encouraging play into everyday moments. She said the grants this time range from $10,000-$80,000.
Drew said every kid deserves a place to play.
"We believe in all types of play at KaBOOM! We know that this is an essential part of childhood and too often these days, kids are denied the benefits of play," Drew said. "For KaBOOM! we see this as an equity issue. So a child's opportunity to play should not be determined by their zip codes, their socioeconomic status or their race."
The two most interesting playgrounds will go into Jamestown and Buffalo. The Southern Tier city gets the half-mile Chadakoin Adventure Trail.
"In partnership with the Chautauqua County Health Network, they will be constructing a half-mile Chadakoin Adventure Trail," Drew said. "So this trail is going to link an elementary school and a park and will feature all sorts of climbable animal figures, tunnels and tree trunk steppers. So different types of equipment for kids to interact with."
She said Buffalo gets Heat Islands.
"Heat Islands are really cool," Drew said. "So these are rock-like structures that change temperature with the seasons. That means you might be able to play on them in the winter and they will be warm and in the summer they would be cool. So this provides an interactive outdoor learning space for kids and it's going to be built with King Central Charter School and a design studio called GEKH."
Among the other Western New York additions will be in Lockport, near the Kenan Center. Daisy’s Garden will bring together a number of fun structures, including an amphitheater, water playspace, sound garden and treehouse.
Genesee County will get the Music Garden, situated in an alleyway along an existing art trail. It will feature more than a dozen interactive musical instruments, sidewalk lights and a musical-themed mural.