With the help of Clintonville High School students, some of the city’s playground equipment received a facelift for the first time in 20 years.
The playground equipment came from the parks throughout the city of Clintonville, and included more than 10 playground animals, mostly horses, that small children rock back and forth on. Justin McAuly, Park and Rec. director for the city, said Chuck Manske originally approached him about projects to work on.
When asked what prompted him to seek out the project, Manske said ultimately it came from an idea his wife had. His wife, Jill Meyer, who is the pastor at the Christ Congregational Church in Clintonville, had a Lenten idea for what she called “Live to Serve.”
The Live to Serve idea including working together on community projects, Manske said.
“My wife and I are very concerned about community development, particularly community building in developing relationships among people,” Manske said. “That was sort of the goal of this Live to Serve project.”
He said 12-15 people in the Live to Serve group tackled the project, scraping the equipment, cleaning it, and then priming each one. As the project moved along, Manske said he realized it was going to be a lot of work to finish, and he didn’t know if he had enough individuals to finish the project.
That’s when Peggy Johnson’s art class at Clintonville High School entered the picture. The art class is a second year, two dimensional class, consisting of sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Manske approached Johnson with the idea of her students participating in the project.
“She loved it and embraced it, and so did her class,” Manske said.
Johnson said her class was “giddy” when they found out about the project.
“This project took absolutely no push from the teacher on my part all all,” Johnson said. “The kids were completely self motivated.”
Each student in the class was asked to submit four designs. The class then provided input on which would be the final designs, with Johnson making the final decision.
Manske said he was happy with the diversity in the design sketches.
“She showed me the sketches, they were a good place to start, but as the kids got going they got more ideas and added things to their original sketches and changed them somewhat,” Manske said.
“What they came up with was really impressive.”
McAuly was also impressed with the progress of the project.
“I was excited,” McAuly said. “This is something that’s been on my [to do] list since I’ve been here, about two and a half years. They haven’t been painted in about 20 years. A lot of them didn’t have any paint left on them, it was just bare metal. It was definitely time to color them up a little bit.”
After the playground animals were primed, they were transported to the high school where Johnson said it took three to four weeks to paint them. She said it was a messy project because the students weren’t used to using oil paints, but it gave them the opportunity to experience that.
All the supplies were provided by the Clintonville Park and Rec. Department.
Without the help of the high school students, McAuly said only a handful of the playground animals would have been repainted this year. It would have probably been rainy day projects for summer help of the Park and Rec. Department.
“This is amazing for the kids to give back to the community,” McAuly said. “They’re going to see these for years to come. Now the young kids in the parks are going to enjoy them for many, many years.
All agree the finished playground animals look amazing.
“They surpassed my expectations,” Manske said.
“This was a huge help to the city,” McAuly added. “I’d just like to thank the art department for such a great job.”
Johnson said having the students give back to the community is what she enjoyed about the project.
“Too often the kids are not recognized for all the good things that they do and the good things that they want to do, but aren’t always given the opportunity,” Johnson said. “This was the most ideal opportunity for these kids. Everybody can remember being a kid and sitting on those little horses, so for them to be able to design them and paint them, and then see them go out into the community, they’re all going to know where they’re put.”
The Park and Rec. Department will inform each student what park their designed playground animal is placed in.
“For years to come these kids are going to know they were part of this community,” Johnson said. “I think for me, that was the most rewarding part.”