Children at Inter-Faith Inn have a new place to play.
Their new playground – a gift from the Scholfield family, Kansasland Tire and others – makes “a remarkable difference,” said Anne Corriston, executive director at Inter-Faith Ministries.
The previous playground needed some work, to say the least.
“They did with what they had,” said Bordie Espinoza, former case manager at the Inn. “We had about half a swing.”
The Inter-Faith Inn takes in single individuals divorced from their spouses, along with mothers and their children. Espinoza will see about 200 kids come through the Inn in the course of one year. At most, he will see 20 staying at once. He spoils them.
“It seems to bring them a little closer,” Espinoza said of the new playground and its toys. “Kids will come in here and ask, ‘Mommy, can we have these for our house?’ ”
Before the reveal of the new play place on Nov. 1, the fence was low and missing boards. It was replaced with a much higher, sturdier fence that blocks the playing children from the public.
“The new fence is very safe so people can’t walk by and hassle them,” Corriston said.
The first stages of the project started at the fence. But another problem arose: steel pieces poking through the rubber mulch floor. Then, Corriston “moved the project to the front burner.”
The steel-infused rubber was replaced with a weather-proof mesh material. The basketball goal, donated by Kansasland Tire, can be adjusted to different heights for the kids to dunk on. In one corner sits a yellow and white painted playhouse equipped with an upstairs loft and a miniature kitchen.
Corriston said that this small patch of play space provides the kids with a sense of normalcy in their usually unorganized lives.
“Whatever difficulties these kids may be having, let’s let the kids have this area,” she said. “And that little playhouse is just so cute … I mean, I wanted to take my grandkids there.”
Typically, the children receive donated toys that are old and faded, but the ones in Inter-Faith Inn’s playground are colorful and shiny.
“They don’t need more computer and video games, they need that imagination,” Corriston said. “They need to imagine that they are playing in a real house. Imagine they are riding bicycles on a path. Imagine they are shooting basketball for their high school basketball team.”
“It’s like they have a backyard now,” Espinoza said.