By Carolyn Staley
Make a difference to a Mississippi Delta town in just a minute using social media?
Our grandson, Freeman, was born with a rare syndrome last spring and lived only 10 months. We couldn’t have loved him more, and we’re grateful for several weeks with him at home. He loved the outdoors and walks through the neighborhood.
His parents, Will and Misti Staley, live in Helena, Ark., and are building a state-of-the-art, handicapped accessible playground for families in Freeman’s memory. Helena is also home to Together for Hope Arkansas, a facet of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s rural development initiative. Will and Misti work with Together for Hope and CBF Arkansas to design t-shirts and materials for the summer VBS Swim Camp, the CBF Arkansas website and produced videos of annual meetings. CBF volunteers are the ones who helped level the city lot and laid new sidewalks.
Freeman Playground will provide a safe place for children and families, and will increase their health and wellness, help avoid obesity and diabetes and discourage recreational drug use. The playground will be accessible (ADA approved) with ramps for wheelchairs, elliptical equipment and a poured rubber surface.
The few local playgrounds in Helena are unsafe and Helena has no Parks Department. Freeman Playground will have security/maintenance as part of its plan.
The nearest ADA playground is 87 miles away. The poverty rate in Helena is above 55%. Median income is $22k per family. 93% of children qualify for free or reduced lunch. Phillips County is one of the 20 poorest counties in the United States (2000 census). Children/families suffer from poor nutrition and lack of exercise. The park will give health and hope to local families.
You can help Freeman Playground become a reality!
Currently, there is an online contest that will award $10,000 to the project that gets the most votes. Voting ends September 29 at 3 p.m. EST. Funds will help buy playground equipment. We need a lot of votes to win!
Voting is simple. Click here and follow the directions to vote using Facebook, email and Twitter, and pledge to partake in an act of kindness. It’s that simple! You can also share this link with your networks on social media or via text.
Kind Snacks.com sponsors this contest each month with the goal of the KIND Movement mission to spread and celebrate kindness. Acts of kindness both big and small are encouraged, from writing a thank you letter to volunteering with an organization. Every day, our community brings us one step closer to our goal of making kindness a state of mind. Join our community of kindness.
Thank you for voting, and for sharing this message of kindness and hope in the Delta. There’s only a week remaining to vote, so vote today!
Carolyn Yeldell Staley, an ordained Baptist minister, has served as CBFAR coordinating council, has been on the CBF Missions team, and was theme interpreter for the 2005 General Assembly. She is a dedicated volunteer with Together for Hope. Will Staley directs a nonprofit in Helena, Ark. that works to bring economic hope to the Delta. Misti teaches art, paints murals and serves on many local boards. Learn more about Together for Hope Arkansas at www.togetherforhopear.org and learn more about Freeman Playground here.