The Story Behind the Playground

Haunting and heartbreaking, triumph over tragedy, rising from the ashes. These are not often the terms one might associate with a playground. But, behind so many of these phenomenal playgrounds that radiate joy and happiness lives a story of tremendous heartache.
Did you know that playgrounds have a way of telling you a story about its community and the people within that community like you never could have imagined? They tell the story of heartbreak and tragedy (yes, I’m talking about playgrounds), but what’s amazing is that they show you how much of a family that community truly is: how supportive, how resilient, how determined that community is to define themselves by positivity and to never let tragedy get the best of them.
This year, I want to add a special segment that highlights communities and their playgrounds, that tell this very story of rising from the ashes and triumphing over tragedy.
Tissue warning! The stories behind these playgrounds are moving and sometimes quite sad but are intended to raise awareness that playgrounds don’t just pop up out of thin air….
I’ve been trying to decide how to best honor the memories of the lives that left such a significant impact on their community—so strong that the community came together to ensure that these lives left a joyful, positive imprint on the lives of others. People will forever experience joy and happiness as a result of the lives of these significant individuals.
What do you do when your heart aches from inexplicable tragedy? Some never recover but others choose to rise from this and bring honor to the memory of the great individual they lost.
When I started Play Across America, quite honestly, I had no idea about the “world” I was venturing into. I thought I’d share some cool playgrounds with people and that would be that. But, I think I’ve cried more tears since starting this app/website than I have in most of my adult life.
I never realized that there were so many stories behind the playgrounds that we share. There are stories of determination to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. There are also so many stories of loss and tragedy that inspired individuals and communities to rise above and bring joy back into the lives of those that live in their community.
There are stories of dedication that inspired entire communities to rebuild a playground from its ashes after vandals destroyed all their hard work and efforts to build a great place for kids to play.
I want to find a way to share these stories with you because these playgrounds are so much more than just a physical place to play, they are often the very heart and soul of a community and they tell a deeply personal story that will help you love and respect that community even more.
So, the next time you visit one of these playgrounds, take a moment to read the story that inspired it and to look at all the individuals and organizations who donated their time and money to bring joy and happiness to their community.

Check back regularly below to read new stories behind the park:

Kayla’s Playground

Kayla's playground

Photo courtesy of Shelly Runte

Joey’s Park

Joey's Park