OTTUMWA — Not every child's idea will be possible — but every idea was recorded.
"Kaboom" project manager Brenna Hull of the nonprofit group's San Francisco office was in Ottumwa Tuesday. She asked students at the Ottumwa school district what they'd like to see in a playground. The organization's goal is one day to have a playground within walking distance of every child in the nation.
"These adults believe play is important," she told the children at the district's after-school program.
She pointed out church members, city government, school district and Dr Pepper Snapple Group managers who were at the meeting. It was important enough that when Matt Rose from the bottling company got word of available funding for something fun in Ottumwa, he reacted immediately. He contacted a friend in the Parks Department, then the mayor. He wrote a proposal in the hopes of getting a $30,000 grant to build an Ottumwa playground. Kaboom said, "Sure, but how about $100,000?"
Rose was thrilled. So was the mayor.
"What a great way to get parents and children working together," Mayor Tom Lazio said.
"Working" was a good word. Hull set the children to task with crayons and paper.
"We've had our playtime. Let's get down to business," she told them. "I want you to close your eyes and imagine the best playground … and the most fun you've ever had."
The drawings differed. One showed a cave for "girls only." Another drawing showed a fairly normal playground with one plot set aside for planting tomatoes. Slides, swings and trampolines were popular. One youngster suggested "a ball pit."
Parks Board member Brian Morgan said one drawing had solar panels.