Yesterday, my family and the City of Greeley officially launched the fund-raising phase of a project that began almost two years ago as my children’s prayerful response to this question: “What great work do you want to do for our community?”
Two years ago we were studying the book of Nehemiah at Journey Christian Church. During this series I challenged the people of the church to ask God to give them a great work they could do for our “Jerusalem”: Greeley. As a congregation we responded by painting a local public school in only four days–after we covered every wall in the hallways with scripture.
My kids responded by asking if we could build a playground for kids in Greeley who don’t have one. I’ve never built anything– let alone a playground–so I contacted the Mayor of Greeley and he sent me to the City Manager who sent me to Andy McRoberts, the Director of Culture, Parks, and Recreation for Greeley.
Andy and I met several times and began planning to build a universally accessible playground. We joined forces with Shane’s Inspiration–a not-for-profit group who fosters a bias-free world for children with disabilities by creating social inclusion for children with disabilities through the vehicle of inclusive playgrounds and programs.
Let me share a video with you to help you to understand what Shane’s Inspiration does and why we’re building an inclusive playground for all children in our community.
My family’s partnership with the City of Greeley launched a series of discussions in the summer of 2012 and a long series of planning meetings. Individuals and organizations from Greeley’s special needs community along with a diverse group of young Greeley residents attended multiple meetings with us to assess specific needs and to secure ideas for the theme and design of the playground.
The Mondy family–a family from Journey–attended one of the first meetings. Ethan and Brandy Mondy have a healthy son, Isis, and a daughter, Aven, who was born with special needs. Aven (pronounced like “avenue”) was a premature baby and diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was two months old.
Aven’s personality delights and captures the hearts of those who meet her, and my family loves her dearly, so we suggested that the new playground be named in her honor. As early advocates of the new playground, the Mondy family was delighted that the universally accessible playground would be named Aven’s Village.
Here’s a document with a lot more information on Aven’s Village: Aven’s Village Informational Packet
Aven’s Village will be located in Greeley’s Island Grove Regional Park, which has been used for recreation and community events since 1870. It will expand and replace the well-used but dated equipment currently located here. Century-old cottonwoods and other trees, spacious lawns, exhibition buildings, a large arena and covered grandstands, and Centennial Village Museum have earned Island Grove Park a reputation as one of the most picturesque and versatile event complexes in the nation. As a venue for local, state, and national activities and events, Aven’s Village will undoubtedly become another attraction for the park’s visitors (600,000 annually). Historically, the park borders the Cache la Poudre River and was a camping and burial place for the Cheyenne and Arapaho prior to the 1870s. In the 1860s, stage coach drivers for Ben Holaday’s Overland Stage stopped here to water their horses. Island Grove was one of two parks established in 1870 when the Union Colony of Colorado platted the town of Greeley. Aven’s Village will exemplify the care and compassion Greeley citizens share in support of this community’s youth.
Aven’s Village is going to be a very special place for all kids in our community.
We love our community.
I believe you can tell a lot about a community by how it cares for its children, which is one of the reasons my family and I relocated to Greeley six years ago. The more we looked into whether or not Greeley would be a good place to raise our children, the more convinced we became that Greeley is a GREAT place to raise children!
And, it’s a great place for an inclusive playground, where all kids can play together.
This great work is going to cost about $1.2 million, which…for the record…is nothing for our God! We are applying for grants and appealing for local corporate donations and sponsorships, but we are going to need a significant amount of donations from people like you to help to make this playground a reality.
Please join me, my family, and the City of Greeley in our Great Work by helping us build a playground where kids of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can play together—a playground that is truly for everyone.
Will you please consider making a donation to help make Aven’s Village a reality?
Also, whether you can donate or not, will you share this blog post and help us spread the news about this exciting and important project?
Donate Online Here: Aven’s Village at Island Grove Park (All gifts to Shane’s Inspiration are tax deductible.)
Or, you can mail donations to: SI FPO Aven’s Village (Shane’s Inspiration For Purposes of Aven’s Village) and sent c/o Tom Welch ~ 501 N. 14th Avenue ~ Greeley, CO 80631.