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KaBoom! New Highwood Hills Playground

Residents July 6, 2017
Across the street from Afton View and Shamrock Court Apartments, in St. Paul there is a public park and playground called Highwood Hills.  Over the past few years there had been a lot of talk about the future of the playground, as parents had growing concerns about the condition and safety of the playground equipment.  The condition and safety of the playground had also not gone unnoticed by the City of St. Paul Parks and Recreation and Highwood Hills Elementary School.  Everyone agreed that something had to be done, but with limited resources and other pressing priorities, no decisive action had been set in motion until it was decided to apply for a “Build it with KaBOOM!” playground grant. KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit that believes all children deserve well balanced and active play. They focus on areas of poverty and work to inspire communities, and create great places for the benefit of the overall health of children.  KaBOOM! accepts applications from child serving non-profit organizations, schools and municipalities who are dedicated to ensuring that all kids—particularly the 16 million in poverty—get balanced and active play so they can thrive.  The “Build it with KaBOOM!” grant gave Highwood Hills Elementary School the opportunity to apply for funding with a national partner to remove the existing playground and rebuild a new one with the help of the Saint Paul Public Schools, City of St. Paul, community partners and volunteers. As Highwood Hills moved through the application and grant process, the Highwood Hills Elementary School reached out to Thies & Talle Management to join the effort as a community representative and partner to assist during the application process.  Several other applications were being considered and when it was announced that Highwood Hills had been awarded the grant, it was due to the hard work of Highwood Hills Elementary School, community members, the City of St. Paul and parents who lead the effort and vision for the design of a new playground. It was after the project had been awarded to Highwood Hills that Delta Airlines, the national sponsor for this grant, stepped in to supply logistics, volunteers and supplies. Community partners along with Delta Airlines worked together to recruit volunteers to prepare for and coordinate the playground construction. Volunteers included Tyler Neuzil, Leasing Specialist from Shamrock Court Apartments and Emily Cheesebrow, Resident Support Specialist from Thies & Talle Management, as well as residents of Afton View and Shamrock Court Apartments. Our volunteers worked in a team of four to build a wooden shade structure, as well as organize and unpack playground parts that would be put together on build day. Volunteers enjoyed the opportunity to work together with neighbors, co-workers and community partners to prepare the playground area. On Saturday, June 10th, 2017 over 300 volunteers from Delta Airlines, KaBOOM! And the local community showed up to build the playground.  The construction of the new playground equipment was incredible considering the amount of work that was accomplished in a single day. The pictures speak loudly of the amount of work and the dedication of volunteers to take time out of their lives on a very warm day to create a playground that will be enjoyed by children for years to come.  Thies & Talle Management would like to specifically thank the resident and employee volunteers from Afton View and Shamrock Court Apartments who assisted in the successful completion of the playground project.  Special thanks to Emily Cheesebrow who was instrumental in coordinating the volunteer effort of this meaningful endeavor.  Emily leads Thies & Talle’s Resident Support Program.  The mission of the Resident Support Program is to connect residents of Thies & Talle Properties to services and opportunities that enhance their housing experience and improve their quality of life.