KEARNS — They say Rome wasn't built in a day, but in just a matter of hours Friday, over 200 volunteers turned an empty field into a child's dream playground by using their hand drawings as inspiration for its design.
With construction starting in the morning, their dreams were made into reality when the new playground next to the Ray and Tye Noorda Utah Community Action Center was completed in the early afternoon.
The playground will be an addition to the Utah Community Action Center’s future Kearns site. The organization helps provide resources for income-eligible families and offers education for children and adults, as well as case management and housing to eligible residents of both Salt Lake and Tooele counties.
Due to the construction of the future Utah Community Action Center, the organization wasn't able to afford a playground without help, according to Joni Clark, chief development officer of Utah Community Action.
"We weren't going to be able to build a playground, due to costs, for a year," she said, adding that organizations like KaBOOM! and Discover Financial Services stepped forward to fund the playground through a grant program.
The playground is designed for preschoolers ages 2-5.
The volunteers, made up of local community members and Discover and KaBOOM! employees, were split up to assemble, drill, hammer, and sand down materials for the playground that features a crawl tunnel, multiple slides and a block climber.
The project took less than six hours to complete because of all the volunteer help. The finished product also includes musical elements and sidewalk art in its design.
Rich Simon, a director at Discover Financial Services, said it’s their 29th playground project in partnership with KaBOOM!.
“We get together with the students to design the playground and try to incorporate elements from the things that they want into our design,” he said.
One of his favorite drawings was from a little girl who drew monkey bars climbing all the way up to the sun, which he said, was illustrated in the playground’s design.
Sarah Branoff, KaBOOM! project manager, said it's the first time the organization has built a playground in Utah.
The nonprofit organization focuses on building and restoring playgrounds across the nation, as well as in Canada and Mexico.
Branoff said having volunteers build or repair playgrounds reduces costs significantly. She called the volunteers' efforts "priceless" as "many hands, make light work."
To improve a community, volunteer Shannon Swensen, a longtime resident of Kearns, believes "in building where you're at."
Lately, she said she's seen many young families move into the neighborhood and found that their children "need a place to play."
"When I see a volunteer event that's in my community or in my state I think we need to step up and make our community a better place," she said.
Swenson said she looks forward to bringing her grandchildren to the park.
At the volunteer event, Swenson said she was tasked with putting together classroom furniture for Utah Community Action's Head Start program, which provides educational opportunities for children ages 5 or younger to prepare them for kindergarten.
Frosty Long, of Kearns, used his experience as a subcontractor to help with the project.
"I happened to have the day off of work, and decided to give back to my community," he said. “I've had help in the past, and had a chance to give something back."
Branoff said the space will act as more than just a playground.
"We believe that play is an essential part of childhood and having the opportunity to play as a kid allows kids to grow into healthy adults,” she said. “It’s a muscle builder, friend maker and a brain expander.
Additionally, Clark said children’s physical health is vital to their development.
The center and playground are expected to open Sept. 6.