Desperate times call for creative measures

If you’re anything like me, parks were a big part of your childhood — up there with Sesame Street and naptime.

I remember scooting myself down the plastic slide (even during the hot summer months) and being deathly afraid of the monkey bars. But most of all, I remember what it was like when my biggest worry was getting the playground sand out of my shoes.

It’s probably these fond memories that make me so concerned about the major cuts that are affecting both local parks and larger state parks across the country.

Shouldn’t all kids be able to race down that sticky, hot plastic playground slide on a sweltering summer day?

So I was heartened to see that in some communities, groups are attempting to fill in the funding gaps left behind by government budget cuts.

In Hernando County, Florida, several city parks were in line to be shuttered until local citizens stepped in, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

In one case, an existing foundation will help operate a 1.3 acre county park through a public-private partnership.

In another case, a group of park supporters have banded together to save a local park that includes a skate park that was popular with local teens. The nonprofit’s board will be made up of nine of the park’s regular users, between the ages of 16 to 25, according to the article.

“These nine kids are going to learn the responsibility and the politics of running a nonprofit,” said Theresa Cunningham, who helped found the nonprofit. “More importantly, everyone who uses the park will now have more peace of mind about its future, even though organizing the takeover has been a lot of work.”

Instead of whining about the cuts (like I admittedly did in my previous post) these residents did something about them.

At a time of dwindling municipal budgets, these are the kind of creative steps that are needed to ensure that every kid has the opportunity to get the carefree sensation of sand in their shoes.

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