Volunteers to Build Playground for Kids Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey is tied with 2005’s Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, inflicting $125 billion in damage. Photo: NASA

by Eric Galatas

GONZALES, Texas – On Saturday, one year after Hurricane Harvey rocked southeast Texas, a group of 200 volunteers will install a new kid-designed, state-of-the-art playground at a children’s foster-care facility directly hit by the storm.

Roxane Rucker, vice president for community impact with KaBOOM!, the group coordinating the effort, said kids at the Family Link facility at Legacy Ranch in Gonzales already were challenged by being unable to live at home because of abuse, neglect or family disruption.

“So, you might imagine the compounding impact that living through a hurricane built, by way of stress and anxiety for young kids.”

When the San Marcos River rose, all 156 acres of Legacy Ranch flooded and sandbags were used to keep water from entering the kids’ home. Rucker said ensuring children have safe places to play is critical to helping kids and communities recover and heal.

The Gonzales playground, which will include a spaceship and a pirate vessel, is part of a broader partnership between The Rebuild Texas Fund and KaBOOM! to help communities affected by Harvey get back to normal, everyday life.

In July, Rucker said, kids from across the region were given large pads of paper and markers and encouraged to be creative and think about how they feel when they play. The results of their efforts, with some adult-designer help, will provide more than 800 kids a safe and one-of-a-kind place to play.

“We prompt them by asking them to draw their dream playground, and you just get back some of the most amazing designs from kids, because they are the play experts,” she said. “Who knows better how to play than the kids?”

Rucker said the Gonzales effort is the first of some 35 projects they’ll roll out, working with organizations across 41 counties in southeast Texas. She said the work should have a lasting impact and provide new play opportunities for more than 87,000 Texas kids over the next generation.

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