Whitehall park prepares for KaBOOM! project |

Whitehall park prepares for KaBOOM! project

An aged, gray jungle gym at Wallace Park in Whitehall will be transformed into a vibrantly colored play space — complete with three side-by-side slides and a boulder climbing rock.

All that's needed are nearly 250 volunteers, six hours and some good weather Sept. 6.

“It will be a whirlwind,” said Kathleen Keating, project manager with the nonprofit Economic Development South.

Nonprofit South Hills Interfaith Ministries, or SHIM, based in Bethel Park, and Brentwood-based Economic Development South have partnered with Whitehall Borough to construct a KaBOOM! playground — in which the national nonprofit organizes a community to build a playground in a day — at the Whitehall park, nestled in the rear of the Whitehall Place housing complex. The project is funded through the Jefferson Regional Foundation and The Heinz Endowments.

The playground's design, which was finalized late last week based on community input, was to be brought before Whitehall Council on Wednesday night for a vote, after the South Hills Record's deadline.

Whitehall Borough owns the property and will take ownership of the playground once it is built, said SHIM executive director Jim Guffey.

The new playground will provide added amenities for young and older youths. That includes toddler-fitted swings and play areas for both younger and older children, Guffey said.

“It's going to be colorful,” Guffey said. “If you go down there right now, it's a drab gray.”

Families involved in local athletic groups that use the nearby ball fields also frequent the play area. Whitehall has had a large population of refugees dating back to the 1990s, many of whom live in the complex. The refugees come mostly from Bhutan and Myanmar, formerly Burma, while others have moved here from Burundi, Sudan, Turkey, Bosnia, Russia and Iraq.

The latest U.S. Census showed that 13 percent of Whitehall's nearly 14,000 residents speak a language other than English at home.

“It's going to serve a big melting pot,” Keating said.

About 40 youths from the complex attended a July 16 design day at the park.

Each sketched ideas for his or her dream playground, Keating said. They wanted a trampoline, soccer field and treehouse.

“Kids are kids,” Keating said. “What the parents want is a safe place for their kids to play.”

Their ideas were a bit extravagant, but, organizers said, they were able to get “tree-like caps” for the play space.

To make it all happen, volunteers are needed for both the “Build Day” on Sept. 6 and the preparation day Sept. 4.

“We take anybody,” Keating said.

The hope is that people volunteering for the project will learn more about the “vibrant community that exists” in Whitehall, Guffey said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.