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KaBOOM! playground coming to West Point


Robbie Robinson

Robbie Robinson



India Yarborough



Before October comes to a close, one West Point park will have a kid-inspired makeover. 


Yokohama Tire Corporation -- which opened a manufacturing plant in West Point in 2015 -- has partnered with national nonprofit KaBOOM! to build a playground at Marshall Park, located on East Main Street just blocks from downtown. 


According to a press release from Yokohama, the playground is set to be built Oct. 28. 


"It is a day-long venture," said Kristina Weist, Yokohama's events and sponsorship coordinator. "We pull together approximately 200 volunteers -- employees and their families, a few representative from Yokohama's corporate headquarters. Everyone comes together, and they're all so excited to build something and to bring something positive to people's futures." 


KaBOOM! representatives and West Point volunteers will also assist, and a team of about 30 volunteers will unload and prepare the equipment the Thursday and Friday leading up to the build day. 


Weist said a design day is set for Aug. 15 at Marshall Park, offering West Point children the opportunity to express what they hope to see in their future playground. 


"We'll get about 30 children from the community, and their parents, and have them draw their dream playgrounds," Weist said. 


From those drawings, she added, KaBOOM!'s project manager will design a blueprint. 


KaBOOM! is a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit dedicated to providing safe playing spaces for children, particularly in low-income areas. 


"(KaBOOM!'s) tag-line is 'play matters for all kids,'" said Jeremy Exell, KaBOOM!'s Yokohama partnership manager. "We really believe active and balanced play is essential for kids to be able to grow and develop into successful adults." 


According to Exell, the playground is a collaborative effort, and he said the nonprofit will send a project manager to the design day to work with the kids and their parents to determine the right equipment and set-up for the West Point community. 


Upon completion, this will be the third playground Yokohama has built with KaBOOM!. 


Weist said West Point was an ideal location for Yokohama's third park because the city offered a warm welcome to the company's recently built manufacturing plant. 


"There were so many (potential locations) around the country, but West Point has been so supportive and the children there deserve it just as much as anyone else does," Weist said. 


Melanie Busby, West Point's grant writer, said she applied in April for a "Build it with KaBOOM!" grant -- paid for by a Yokohama charity fund -- which will provide environmentally friendly playground equipment to make the project possible. 


"We work with those sponsors, those funders, to collaboratively identify communities where they think there is a need and where we can make an impact," Exell said. 


Marshall is one of four major parks managed by the West Point Parks and Recreation Department, and Exell said it was the perfect space because it allowed KaBOOM! to add an element of play to an already great park. 


"I sent in three different locations in West Point," Busby said. "And KaBOOM! gave me guidance and said Marshall Park was the best location for their grant. 


"It is in a really good location for kids to get to after school in a safe area," she added. 


West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson said the project will help bolster the park's offerings to a younger crowd. 


"One of our goals here is to make sure that our parks are top-notch," Robinson said. "Marshall Park has a walking track and a skate board park, and this will add to it. It will give young children in the neighborhood the chance to get out and play."




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