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'Playground of dreams' unveiled

"With the official OK, the Kids Up! fundraising is under way.Last week, Bainbridge Island Park District officials approved the non-profit group's plan to replace the current aging playground equipment at Battle Point for an ambitious 10,000-square-foot dream playground largely designed by the kids for whom it's intended.A week-long day-and-night volunteer construction binge is tentatively set for mid-May. Between now and then, Kids Up! organizers will launch a high-profile effort islandwide to raise $150,000 toward the overall projected $450,000 cost.While the park district is donating the space, it won't be absorbing any of the expenses and will likely contribute a minimum of in-kind services, park director Dave Lewis said. Additionally, Kids Up! will be responsible for obtaining all land-use and building permits for the site.We're all totally volunteers, and we've taken on a huge project, said Kids Up! organizer Helena Hoyte Bierly. But we have faith that we can fulfill the vision of our children, and there's such a need for something like this.The new playground will educational as well as fun, incorporating elements of local history and environmental awareness. Included are tot swings for kids as young as two years, a strawberry stand and farm abutting tot tunnels, a multi-tiered castle maze, tube, wave and curly slides, lighthouse, monkey bars, salmon run and tire tunnels, among much more - all surrounding by fencing for safety and landscaping for aesthetic impact.The kids had fun coming up with these ideas, Hoyte Bierly said of the Oct. 2 design day among students at Ordway Elementary, done in conjunction with nationally-know play-area architects Leathers & Associates. The challenge really engaged their imagination.Now that the kids have used their creativity, the adults must do the same in raising money. Their next planned event, set for Jan. 6, is called Coins For Kids and works thusly: Kids 12 and under who fill a special coin bank can trade them in at Bainbridge Cinemas for a admittance to a movie. The banks can be picked up now at the Bainbridge Public Library, the Calico Cat and the park district office at Strawberry Hill.Donors of $500 or more will be recognized at the playground with their names engraved on a stone plaque. Individual playground components can be purchased as well, such as engraved concrete hand pavers ($250 and $100) and engraved wood fence pickets ($50). Additionally, children's handprint tiles can be purchased at the Farmer's Market and the Coins For Kids event for $25 apiece.All this will lead to one herculean week of construction that Kids Up! organizers hope will lure as many as 1,000 volunteers for carpentry, woodworking, child care, food serving and more.Over the course of six days, the community will come together to build the play structure, just like an old-fashioned barn-raising, Hoyte Bierly said. "

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