Every community has playground areas that are neglected, vandalized, or run down – and the communities that comprise Prince George’s County Maryland are no exceptions.


PROJECT

Spring Cleanup Project: Community Revitalizations

DATES

Spring 2019 - specific dates, to be determined

Sponsor

The Mentoring by Example Foundation, Inc.

PROJECT GOAL

Provide clean and safe places for youth and young adults living within Prince Georges County to play and gather within their neighborhoods.

Reason for the project: In populated urban neighborhoods, safe gathering areas and playgrounds can make a vital contribution to addressing chronic health challenges in youth such as obesity, diabetes, asthma and mental health issues.  Updated, well maintained gathering areas and playgrounds can also reduce the opportunities for crime.  By uniting to reclaim vacant and to update unmaintained sites, The Mentoring by Example Foundation aims to help neighborhoods eliminate blight and create positive neighborhood resources for children, their families, and care givers.  For the Foundation, this project is filled with a myriad of benefits as it presents a mentoring opportunity for youth and young adults, gives school aged volunteers the chance to earn community service hours, offers an effective crime prevention strategy, as well as creates safe and healthy community areas.  Noted below are the detailed reasons the Foundation determined as the basis for the revitalization project.

Neighborhoods are often plagued with unsafe, unmaintained, community places and play areas which then prevents community connections

Because of the social and intergenerational nature of play, play environments have the potential to be not just settings for active recreation but places where relationships and communities can form. People of all ages can identify with a play space, whether it is a place that they frequently visit, or a place with a particular type of character or a unique feature that has special meaning to the people who use it. A sense of community builds around a group of people identifying with a play space.

Neighborhoods typically have play and community equipment in disrepair

Often, communities do not have the funding to repair existing play equipment and will leave the dangerous play equipment in the community without signage or warnings to potential users.  While removing the dangerous equipment satisfies the safety concerns, the community is left with even less play equipment. In the event that a community’s play equipment is identified as unsafe or in disrepair the Foundation will identify options for repair first before flagging the item for removal.

Neighborhoods are plagued with aged equipment

Older structures may have safety deficiencies that are not apparent to the members of the community. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, American Society for Testing and Materials, and Americans with Disabilities Act all have guidelines that guide creating safe play areas.  The Foundation will work with each community to conduct assessments are the play equipment.  The assessment will indicate whether or not, according to standards, it is time to replace the equipment or indicate what changes may be required soon.

Youth and Young Adults need positive ways to get involved in the community and stay out of trouble

The Mentoring by Example Foundation, Inc. takes great pride in providing community service opportunities for youth and young adults.  Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards for not only the recipients of the time and effort but for those providing the service as well.  Community Service volunteers gain professional experience, learn how to work toward a common goal, build camaraderie, and the benefits of teamwork.  The Foundation views volunteering as a gateway to personal growth and self-esteem.  Learning about and understanding community needs helps foster empathy and self-efficacy. 

Lack of understanding of the benefits of physical activity and general play

When most adults think about exercise, they imagine working out in the gym on a treadmill or lifting weights.  But for kids, exercise means playing and being physically active. Kids exercise when they have gym class at school, during recess, at dance class or soccer practice, while riding bikes, or when playing at the playground.  According to the President’s Report on Promoting Better Health for Young People through Physical Activity and Sports, it is recommended that children should have 60 minutes of physical activity a day.  There are many ways for children to achieve this recommendation, including spending the playtime outdoors.



Project Summary

Every community has playground areas that are neglected, vandalized, or run down – and the communities that comprise Prince George’s County Maryland are no exceptions. The Mentoring by Example Foundation wants to help clean up as many of these areas within PG County as possible through its Community Playground Revitalization project.   The cleanup project will involve volunteers of all age’s working together— picking up trash, hauling away old dangerous equipment, painting, power washing etc.— in an effort to spruce up selected playground sites.   


Project Objectives

  1. To improve the appearance of areas that were previously neglected, abandoned, vandalized, or misused.

  2. To empower community members to use and enjoy the improved area more than they did before the cleanup.

  3. To strengthen the community ties among both young and old involved in the cleanup.


Project Tasks

Some of the tasks associated with the projects include but are not limited to:

  • Remove debris and trash.

  • Replace / repair some of the wooden planks.

  • Power wash play areas.

  • Paint play areas.

  • Install stepping stones or flower planters and add new mulch.

  • Build shade structures.

  • Add picnic tables (with checkerboard and chessboards painted on top).

  • Install outdoor chalkboard for drawing or tic-tac-toe games.

  • Paint a hopscotch board on ground surface.

  • Paint instructional murals on walls near the playground.

  • Update outdoor basketball courts by marking off the foul lane and three-point line with paint and replacing nets.

  • Ensure site meets playground safety standards set by Consumer Product Safety Commission, American Society for Testing and Materials, and Americans with Disabilities Act.


Anticipated Project Results

  • Reduced crime in the assisted communities, as a result of reclaiming under managed play areas.

  • Educate and inform project volunteers and community members on the importance of managing community areas and impact of not doing so.

  • Be cost effective, through leveraged resources from Foundation partners, project supporters, and community funding.

  • Create a lasting impact on each community serviced, especially the youth in the community, including those volunteering on the project.

  • Attract support and resources to facilitate implementing similar projects across the region.

  • Make people feel safer and better about being members of their community.

  • Provide a safe place for kids to play!