DECATUR – Jordan Buchen's vision for a playground at Old King's Orchard Community Center encompasses a submarine, tunnels with escape hatches and a cannon, to name a few.
“It's a rock wall-swing-pool type thing,” the 10-year-old explained. “You can climb up into the dome and look out or you can go down a swirly slide and act like you're driving.”
Jordan, who will be a fifth-grader this fall at Dennis School, was among three dozen children who sketched their dream playground Tuesday afternoon during a design session with Rachel Malkusak, associate project manager with Washington, D.C.,-based KaBOOM!
The national nonprofit dedicated to bringing active play to children growing up in poverty, is partnering with BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, which is providing about $90,000 and half of the 200 volunteers who will build the playground in the northwest quadrant of the center's Peace Park on Sept. 26.
The other half of the volunteer crew will come from the Decatur area, along with funds raised by the center amounting to about 8 percent of BlueCross BlueShield's investment.
Malkusak also met Tuesday with members of the community center's board to see the playground site and work out logistics for the build day. Board members said they would like a 25-by-30-foot stage to be part of the project.
Also on hand Tuesday was Shelley Long, volunteer and community specialist for BlueCross BlueShield, who said the company has helped KaBOOM! build 22 other playgrounds across the state, starting in 2009.
Long said Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Caterpillar Inc. have expressed interest in providing volunteers, and on Tuesday, Mike Andrejasich, director of Action Research Illinois, offered some “young and strong backs” from the University of Illinois, where he is on the faculty.
Alida Graham, president of the center's board, said adults at a separate design meeting got a lot accomplished, too. “We had some great brainstorming and offers of help,” she said.
The nearby Good Samaritan Inn, for example, is making plans to serve breakfast and lunch to the volunteers on build day.
Graham said the adults were also delighted by what the children came up with.
Chariya Walker, who drew an expansive set of monkey bars, said she's happy the playground will go up the day after her ninth birthday Sept. 25.
Lanaya Selvie, 9, sketched trees with pink leaves and pink swings. “It's my favorite color,” she said.