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Thursday, October 2, 2014
A new playground at the Rec Center
by Jim Golding
by Jim Golding
A SEA OF RED SHIRTS: Friends of Freeport volunteers joined with the Allstate Foundation in landscaping the playground at the Rec Center.

Thanks to the efforts of a Freeport resident and Brownie troop leader, the Village has a unique, new playground at the Recreation Center.

Dozens of volunteers from Friends of Freeport, the Allstate Foundation that funded the project, and the non-profit Injury Free Coalition for Kids spent most of the day on Saturday assembling the equipment and planting the landscaping for the playground in the vacant area at the south end of the property.

The project resulted from the efforts of resident Carole James, an Allstate Insurance employee, who prepared the proposal for the Foundation to install the playground in Freeport.

“The corporate relations department said they were looking for an area to bring a playground,” said Ms. James, who also leads Brownie Troop 2328. “After Superstorm Sandy, we asked them to look at Freeport. Island Park was the other site considered, but Allstate had a large presence in Freeport. So we did a proposal.”

For many years, Allstate Foundation, in cooperation with the Injury Free Coalition for Kids and Little Hands (a subsidiary of toy manufacturer Little Tykes) has funded playgrounds throughout the country in needful communities.

Dr. Barbara Barlow, executive director and a founder of the Injury-Free Coalition, and a retired pediatric surgeon, explained her organization’s purpose in establishing the playgrounds.

“We started a program in Harlem in 1989 because of high injury rate of children who were playing in the streets.” We started building safe playgrounds for children and the Allstate Foundation approached us and said they would like to do it across the country.

Over the years, playgrounds have been built in Mississippi, in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, in Chinatown following 9/11, in Arizona at former Congresswoman [Gabrielle] Giffords’ elementary school after she had been shot, and elsewhere.

“After Sandy, Allstate called and expressed interest in building one in New York.

“We looked along the coast and saw this area,” she said. With Ms. James lobbying for Freeport, supported by Friends of Freeport and Recreation Center Director Victoria Dinelli, the village site was chosen as the location.

Dr. Barlow added that, of the 150 playgrounds built thus far, the Recreation Center playground is the largest one ever done.

Among those dropping by to view the progress on the installation were Mayor Robert Kennedy and county Legislator David Denenberg, who expressed their congratulations to the volunteers.

Dedication ceremonies for the completed playground will take place Oct. 31, following the Halloween parade.

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