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The City Of Akron, Akron Parks Collaborative, & More Unveil Kid-Designed Playspace At Morgan Park



Akron, Ohio, July 10, 2023 — Today, kids in Akron are celebrating as a new kid-designed, community-built playground debuted. The months-long collaboration between the City of Akron, Akron Parks Collaborative, The CarMax Foundation, and KABOOM! culminated in late June as more than 100 volunteers built the new playspace that will spark joy and foster a sense of belonging for Akron’s kids who live and play near Morgan Park.

Morgan Park is a small city park in the South Akron neighborhood. The park had been displaced on more than one occasion for development projects and had fallen into disrepair and disuse over the years. Akron Parks Collaborative, South Akron Block Club, South Street Ministries, and Summit County Public Health along with churches and neighbors are re-envisioning a new park for the neighborhood to be the vibrant center of the community. The new playground was a collaborative effort by community members, including kids, who presented creative ideas for their dream playground during a design day in April.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to just be a kid and enjoy high-quality public spaces in their own neighborhood,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “This collaboration between the City of Akron and our partners is creating an outstanding transformation in Morgan Park for all the kids in South Akron to enjoy for years to come. The reimagining of this park has been done hand in hand with our community members from the start and I look forward to seeing our kids enjoy this new and improved playspace.”

"This playground is the first step toward a much-needed community-requested makeover of Morgan Park,” said Bridget Ambrisco, Executive Director Akron Parks Collaborative. “A neighborhood park was displaced twice in this historically redlined community and is crumbling in its current location. Neighbors and neighborhood groups, like South Street Ministries and South Akron Block Club have activated to bring these improvements for the benefit of the community. We're so excited to work with these passionate neighbors to make this happen!"

Playing is the essence of childhood and is a critical developmental need that provides countless physical, social, and mental health benefits. However, far too many children, especially in communities of color, do not have a place to play near where they live or learn. KABOOM! is working to end playspace inequity, ensuring that kids have access to quality places to play, something that should be part of every child’s life. The new playground at Morgan Park, designed with the neighborhood’s unique needs and aspirations in mind, brings Akron one step closer toward ending playspace inequity and ensuring that every kid has the opportunity to experience the joys and benefits of play.

“Playgrounds are an iconic part of childhood. They’re not only where kids collect some of their best memories, but also where crucial skills are developed that nurture their physical, mental, and emotional well-being,” said Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!. “KABOOM! is thrilled to work with our partners to bring to life the new playspace at Morgan Park and ensure that kids in Akron have a place designed just for them, where they can play, learn, and unlock their greatest potential.”

The CarMax Foundation has provided the majority of funding for the new playground through its $3.9 million partnership with KABOOM!, furthering its commitment to ending playspace inequity. Over the past decade, the Foundation has invested $17.5 million to create 200 playspaces and counting across the country with the volunteer support of more than 11,000 CarMax associates.

“CarMax is proud to partner with local communities where we live and work to provide access to playspaces for children who need them,” said Jason Ancarrow, president of The CarMax Foundation. “It’s exciting to help bring a playground to life that was designed by and for the community and our associates are energized by volunteering together and alongside the families that will enjoy the playgrounds for years to come.”

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