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With crayons in hand, kids redesigning MLK Park playground

Chris Caya
WBFO News File Photo
Children are helping redesign the playground at MLK Park.

On Sept. 20, workers will start putting up a playground in Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Buffalo's East Side. On Tuesday, kids were asked for their ideas on what the park should look like.

Many of the kids at the session in the Science Museum were from the day care center Peaches & Cream's. They had paper and all sorts of colorful markers to draw what they thought should be in the new play area.

Then they had a chance to show their ideas to the other kids, parents, caregivers and officials of the groups supporting the plan to make it easier for kids to play.

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. foundation and BlueCrossBlueShield brought in KaBOOM! to run the process. Project Manager Sarah Branoff said the goal is a playground kids want to use.

"The playground is going to be over 6,000 square feet," she said. "It's going to be all brand new, custom designed by the kids here and the community members here that designed it and it's going to be for ages 2-12, so there will be equipment for the young kids and then also for the older kids."

Branoff said there will also be equipment for kids with handicaps or in wheelchairs so that the park will be for everyone.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"We're really trying to focus on that for this playground and make sure that there are items that the kids can get involved in if they are in wheelchairs or differently abled," Branoff said. "So that's one thing that we're going to talk about today is how do we really best suit the playgrounds for kids of all abilities."

Kids were asked to pick from catalogs of playground equipment and the adults met to talk about fund-raising to pay for the facility. City Director of Youth and Recreation Kenneth Simmons said the playground will need community support and protection.

"When you have the community actively involved, the kids will want to play," Simmon said, "and one thing about it is safety - not on the city's behalf, but on the community's behalf, like a park like this in this neighborhood. Even though it's beautiful, even though it's had an upgrade, a lot of parents just do not feel comfortable sending their kids to a park, especially on the East Side of Buffalo, when anything can happen."

Simmons said the block clubs and the residents around the park where he grew up are key to making sure kids use MLK and its facilities, new and old.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News