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Volunteers work on the new playground at the YMCA's Allard Center in Goffstown. (SUSAN CLARK PHOTO)

Community playground

Goffstown community turns out for playground-building

GOFFSTOWN — More than 50 volunteers helped build a playground at the YMCA Allard Center, but they also helped build connections to the community.

For three days, YMCA staff and volunteers removed an old metal slide and jungle gym, a volleyball net and four concrete pads, and turned it into a new accessible playground for YMCA members and residents of Goffstown, Manchester, Bedford, Dunbarton, Weare and New Boston. The work began Oct. 10 and ended Saturday, Oct. 12, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"It's been just amazing to watch everybody working together to transform that sand pit into a playground," said Doug Ewing, co-chairman of the playground committee.

In November, the YMCA received a $15,000 challenge grant from Kaboom to encourage community donations for the playground project. The staff needed to raise $25,000 and so far has raised $15,000. Fundraising by the gymnastics team, the Schools Out program and donations from local businesses and surrounding communities provided the money to build the playground, said Gail Houle, a member of the YMCA advisory board.

"I feel like it's Christmas morning," said Houle. "The old playground was sad and I felt we needed to do something."

Among the volunteers were several Goffstown High School students and two alumni who wanted to do community service in memory of Cory Houston, a fellow student who died April 28, 2012, in a tree-cutting accident.

"He meant a lot to a lot of people at the high school, and they wanted to keep his memory going," said Barbara Carey, a math teacher.

Corey's parents, Kris and Jeff Houston, were on hand at the playground on build day to welcome the student volunteers.

"It makes my heart so warm," said Kris. "It's awesome."

At the ribbon-cutting, Houle and Ewing thanked the volunteers and supporters.

"The YMCA is about building relationships and moving forward. Our children of all ages have an opportunity to play together," said Houle. "We have a place where people can come together without barriers."

Houle has been a member of the YMCA for several years, and noticed there wasn't an adequate playground at the Allard Center, she said it was a "hot button" for her and mentioned building a playground at the center, the next thing she knew she was on the advisory board.

Michele Sheppard, director of the Allard Center, said the playground will officially open Oct. 16, and will be all-inclusive for YMCA members, children enrolled in the child care and day camps, and at various times for people in the local communities.

"The playground, for ages 4 to 12 years of age, will allow for holistic development by providing elements to encourage creative play and physical health. At the Y, we foster connections so that children of all ages and abilities are able to play side by side. The playground is also ADA accessible."

The playground will be open to the communities week nights from 5:30 p.m. to dark year-round, summers after 6 p.m., and no restricted hours on weekends.

The YMCA staff wishes to thank its community donors, Langley Construction, The Rynearson Company, Urella's Landscaping and Irrigation, SD Cookman Building and Remodeling, Walton Demolition, Pike Industries, Home Depot, Lowe's and Kohl's Associates in Action. Meals were provided by The Bagged Lunch, Sweet T's, High Street Farmhouse, The Village Trestle, Two Friends Cafe, Grand Slam Pizza 2, Just Like Mom's Pastries, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's and Coca-Cola.

The grant was part of Let's Play, a community partnership led by Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group. The playground materials were provided by Ultiplay parks and playgrounds Inc, of Uxbridge, Mass.

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