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Designed by kids, built by volunteers: Hundreds of volunteers team up to build dream playground for formerly homeless children

New playground they designed rose from the ground at Verde Gardens

Designed by kids, built by volunteers: Hundreds of volunteers team up to build dream playground for formerly homeless children
Submitted by Julia Bennett

MIAMI, FL – The dreams of hundreds of formerly homeless children living in South Miami-Dade County have finally come true as a brand new playground they designed rose from the ground at Verde Gardens, an affordable housing community in Homestead, Fla.

The playground project – funded by a partnership initiated by the community’s developer Carrfour Supportive Housing with the John S. James L. Knight Foundation and organizers from KaBOOM! – was launched months earlier, when the children of Verde Gardens were asked to put crayon to paper to draw their “dream” playground.
On March 23, 2013, the dreams of 367 formerly homeless children ultimately became a reality as hundreds of volunteers gathered at the Verde Gardens community to build a new playground from scratch in less than eight hours, with its design incorporating several elements from the children’s original drawings.

“Our partnership with KABOOM!, and the Knight Foundation has brought happiness into the lives of hundreds of formerly homeless children living at Verde Gardens and in the Homestead area,” said Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg, president of Carrfour Supportive Housing, the community’s developer and operator. “The overwhelming outpouring of support from everyone that volunteered their time has resulted in a new playground that will make a positive difference in the lives of our community’s children for years to come.”

Home to one of the most innovative supportive housing programs in the country, Verde Gardens – a $20 million partnership between the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and non-profit affordable housing developer Carrfour Supportive Housing – is a supportive housing community in Homestead, Florida for formerly homeless families and individuals with special needs, which includes a 22-acre onsite organic farm and public farmers market that is operated by residents.

The 145-unit Verde Gardens community is home to approximately 580 formerly homeless residents – 367 of which are children. Prior to the partnership with KaBOOM! and the Knight Foundation, the community included a very small playground structure only suitable for children under the age of five. The community’s new playground will provide hundreds of children of all ages with a safe and fun place to play.

The Verde Gardens play-ground is one of three play-grounds being built by Ka-BOOM! and the Knight Foundation this year in Miami-Dade County and one of more than 150 playground builds, KaBOOM! will possibly make its way across the country in 2013.

In addition to the community-built playground, the new play area also includes Imagination Playground in a Cart™ – a breakthrough play space concept designed by architect David Rockwell to encourage child-directed, unstructured free play. With reconfigurable loose parts, Imagination Playground in a Cart™ allows children to constantly change their environment and design their own course of play.

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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