Students to renovate playground

Mary-Kathryn (Katy) Cleminson '11 is coordinating a neighborhood playground renovation.

Clark University’s Student Council has allocated $39,497 to renovate the playground on the corner of Florence and Downing Streets in Worcester. The money will support Project Playground, a campaign to create a safe and positive outdoor play space for neighborhood children.  Funding will be used to install fences, lighting, and security at the location.

According to Mary-Kathryn (Katy) Cleminson, a senior at Clark, Project Playground has proven to be popular with the student body. An event to gauge student support of the renovation project yielded 800 signatures from Clark students who wanted to get involved with child development in the community.

“Project Playground is an opportunity for students to engage the community directly and form a lasting, tangible bond with the community,” said Cleminson. The project will also help improve the Clark campus and empower Clark students to create positive change in the community, she added.

* Clark Voices video: Cleminson and Jill Dagilis M.P.A. ’01, Executive Director of the Worcester Community Action Council, discuss Project Playground and Clark students’ commitment to the local community. *

Cleminson is spearheading the effort in Main South after conducting a similar initiative abroad this summer for students at a primary school in South Africa. She said construction on the site will begin as soon as the ground thaws. Renovations are expected to be complete by the end of the spring semester.

The playground Cleminson helped create for students at the Lynedoch Primary School helped reduce school violence and improve the students’ social and motor skills (visit www.lpsplayground.blogspot.com).

“We want it to be a ‘community build,’ so everyone can come out – and whether you want to put the swing together or just paint the new fence, anything like that, we want people to have that opportunity,” she said.

Other initiatives that received Student Council funding include the Clark Food Cooperative, a project which intends to outfit a room on campus for organic and local food storage and selling ($20,000), the Recycling Bin Initiative ($15,000) and the Gender Neutral Bathrooms Project ($2,000) to transform 11 single-stall bathrooms in various buildings to gender-neutral spaces.

The proposals were evaluated based on 10 criteria: impact on students, support from students, support from administrative providers of services necessary to the project, innovation, reality of implementation, process for future maintenance, foresight in planning, level of significance, and economic efficiency.