Central Park – Mission Accomplished

Those who have followed the Rant for a while might recall that just over a year ago I asked for prayer regarding the derelict playground in front of our house (you can read the post here). Not long afterwards I wrote a further post, celebrating the fact that we had been awarded all the money required to transform the playground into ‘Central Park’ – a play area and community garden for local residents to enjoy. (That post is here).

Well, I’ve been blogging about so much recently that I kinda forgot to mention that…

THEY FINISHED CENTRAL PARK!

It’s done. Dusted. Complete. Finito!!

My kids (along with literally hundreds of others) now have a local park to play in (there’s only one other playground on Trevethin – an estate of nearly 4,000 people!!)

As you’d expect, I’m buzzin’!!

Seriously, it’s such an momentous achievement for this community and while there are a lot of people who slogged their guts out to make it happen (especially Shane, the local Communities First fella) I want to be faithful to give the ultimate thanks to God!

We prayed.

He answered, so He gets the glory!

Anyway, I thought I’d share the story with you in photos, cos apparently pictures paint a thousand words…

SEPTEMBER 2007
We moved onto the estate and this was our local playground!

MAY 2008
I contacted the local councillors, Communities First and a few other groups. We decided it was time to take action and organised a community fun-day to consult with the local residents. 100% of those asked approved of our plans, so we pressed on raising funds!

JANUARY 2010
As the snow began to fall in early January 2010, the diggers, dump-trucks and pneumatic drills turned up and the ground work began.

MAY 2010
As part of the Ignite Hope weekend, my good friend Bryce Davies (of Peaceful Progress) came up to the estate to work with an army of local kids on painting a mural on the wall that runs along the back of the park. The mural was organised and completely paid for by Hill City Church, and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to bless the project in such a colourful, creative and significant way. I’m also delighted to report that 6 months later, not one bit of scribble or scrawl has been added to the mural! (I guess it pays to give the kids some sense of ownership over something like that!)

SEPTEMBER 2010
After a long drawn out process, the contractors finally completed the installation of the play equipment and Central Park was opened for the community!

To say the kids love Central Park would be a HUGE understatement – they’re all over it! The first few weeks were mental (as you’d expect) but have since calmed down! There is now a general hubbub that comes from the park from the time school closes until around 9:30pm each day, but it’s not vicious, or menacing or intimidating noise – it’s the sound of young people having fun – and long may that continue!!

In conclusion then, we’ve finally reached the end of the road as far as providing a playground for the local kids goes, though the real work has only just begun! Now it’s all about engaging with the kids, encouraging them towards respecting the equipment and looking after their environment.

That’s the challenge!

Part of the funding has gone towards employing 2 community engagement officers specifically for that job. However, as things stand I’m very much the playground guy as far as the local kids are concerned. Therefore if ANYTHING playground related happens – it’s my door that gets knocked. You literally would not believe how many knocks I’ve had in the last few months:

“Daio – someone’s puked up on the roundabout!”

“DJ, there’s a dog in the park.”

“Dai ______ keeps bullying us!”

“Yo Deej, watch me do this…”

“Daio, _______’s peeing down the slide!!”

“What, so does this playground belong to you?!”

(The last one is my personal favourite!!)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind being the first port of call when it comes to Central Park. Far from it! It’s an honour to be connected with such an exciting, community-transforming project. Some might say that Christians should stick to teaching the Bible and leave social action to the council.

I’d say that’s a load of bunk!

Hill City’s involvement in the Central Park project has put our faith and our Saviour on display for people who might have never otherwise given Jesus or church a second thought! We now have a lot more credibility in the community than we did have before. Besides, God’s people should have a reputation for being good news, wherever they live, as this Scripture tells us:

“And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
(Isaiah 58v12)

2 thoughts on “Central Park – Mission Accomplished

  1. Fair play to you … God provided an opportunity and you took it … it sounds a fantastic way to get to know people and I pray you will have many witness opportunities as a result.

    I don’t know exactly what it is like where you are … but where we are (inner Brum) by nature of the gun crime / gangs etc and the funding this attracts, young people literally have activities and opportunities to do stuff pretty well every night, if they wanted (these things don’t always last long and the gang members don’t go to them – but thats another story)

    This shapes how they see the football and gospel we have put on for the last 4 1/2 years … we are just one more activity which they are entitled to have and so the ‘seeking to bless’ as we are Christians witness opportunity is somewhat negated.

    Now that doesn’t mean we stop, any opportunity to get to know the local youth and have an opportunity for exposure to Christians and possible witness we will take. And 9 -10pm on Fridays in the middle of the hood -you will find me arguing with young men of different religions and ethnicities about not swearing … whilst they make me look silly with their skills and then don’t score.

    Its just I think in areas such as ours the post welfare context (where loads of money has already been pumped in) means how we Christians see what we do as social action may not be perceived by the recipients in the same way. So it may not be seen as a particularly Christian thing to do (the council does it, other faiths do it etc) or even as something which stirs any questioning (eg why are you Christians doing this?) – it is expected that people will do stuff for the community. So when I shut the footy for the summer holidays a few years back … all I got was – how can you do this ? we’ll all into get into crime or get shot !!!

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