Texas Church Uses Mission & Ministry Grant to Design an Inclusive Playground

The NBA Mission & Ministry Grant program accepts applications annually in the autumn and awards funds for use in the following year. Mission & Ministry Grant recipients used their 2019-20 funds to improve the health and wellbeing of older adults, youth, and young adults. As the 2019-20 grant period comes to a close, we asked grantees to share a story from the past year of how their communities and organizations benefitted from their award.

Park Place Christian Church in Wichita Falls, Texas approved building a playground for its children, but had never gotten around to building it.  In 2016, the Board handed out leftover projects to new board members for completion.  The playground was given to Candy Tucker to tackle.

While working in the community garden, Candy was telling a member of the community that a playground was going up in the back lot.  “I hope it is a place that Eve can play in,” said the member.  Eve uses a wheelchair and the member hoped the playground being built would be one that would be accessible for all children.

That was the turning point for the planned playground. Park Place was supposed to build an inclusive playground so that Eve, and other children like her, could play in alongside her sisters.  We reimagined our why and the purpose of this pending playground and that’s how and Play For All was begun.

The playground committee spent a year fundraising for this new vision and raised about $3,000, but we knew we needed more to build. Unfortunately, we were often turned down for the big grants because we had not raised enough money on our own. This left us discouraged.

Our minister, Alice Hupp, encouraged us to seek help from the Disciples Church Extension Fund. She said the ministry could potentially guide us in another direction.  We agreed reluctantly and met with Rev. Craig Walls. He explained that our project was absolutely worthy of our time and effort.  He reminded us that we should pray about the outcome!

We immediately set up 40 days of prayer and invited the church and our community to actively, physically pray for the playground project.  During the 40 days, we received $900 in individual donations; the Junior League of  Wichita Falls called to ask if they could partner with us; we received a $5,000 Mission & Ministry grant from the National Benevolent Association and on the last day of the 40 days, Candy received a phone call asking if we could take duplicate pieces of equipment off of the hands of another playground in Alvarado, Texas.  The pieces were the exact colors that had been chosen for our playground.  Agreeing to take these pieces saved us $31,500.  Additionally, the church voted to increase its donation by $150,000.

Now with those pieces of equipment, we will open Phase One of the playground within the next month. The turf will be installed by Forever Lawn and will be anti-static and bacteriostatic, so that children and their families don’t have to worry about the static and bacteria build up that can often occur on playgrounds. Fencing will be wrought iron so it will be sturdy and attractive.

Coronavirus set us back by stalling fundraising efforts of the organizations that wanted to help us, but with the extra input of our church, we have the money to move forward to show the community that an all-inclusive playground is coming to our neighborhood.  We are confident that as construction begins, donations will pour in from donors and organizations that thought the playground was a dream that would not happen.
Thank you, NBA, for helping to make our dream a reality.

Park Place Christian Church is in Wichita Falls, Texas. Their senior pastor is Rev. Alice Hupp.

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As the health and social services general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the National Benevolent Association partners with congregations, regions, general ministries, and a variety of Disciples-related health and social service providers to create communities of compassion and care. Founded in 1887 by six women responding to the needs of the day and on their doorsteps, for more than 130 years the NBA has continued to serve “the least of these.” Learn more at www.nbacares.org.