We did it, Charlottesville!

On August 24, 2021, the playground at Walker Upper Elementary officially opened. Charlottesville City Schools students were there to cut the ribbon.

We were able to build a playground for Walker Upper Elementary because the Charlottesville community cared enough about our students to donate time, funding, and other resources. We’d like to recognize those who made this project possible. As you’re reading this list, remember that the project includes not only the playground but also the pathway that connects the lower parking lot that Walker shares with Crow Rec Center. The pathway and parking spaces in the lot were not up to current ADA regulations. In order to make the playground accessible to our community, we renovated the pathway and parking lot spaces, making it easier for more folks to access not just the new playground but also Crow Rec Center.

– Mrs. Grace Riggs gave an incredibly generous donation to the Walker playground after seeing a news story about the project. Mrs. Riggs, who passed away in 2019, donated to many Cville programs supporting children and young adults. Mrs. Riggs’ family hopes “her generous nature will be passed on.” Her daughter said, “My mom believed in helping those who were disadvantaged, especially children. She loved to read and had a passion for sharing that love.” It is with gratitude that we recognize Mrs. Riggs.

Charlottesville Area Community Foundation supported the Walker playground though an Enriching Communities grant. They also provided guidance on applying for other community grants, which we won. Thank you, CACF, for the many ways you invest in Cville!

– The Walker playground is supported in part by Community Health, a UVA Health grant intended to promote active living and a healthy and connected community. We appreciate UVA Health helping us provide opportunities for students to move their bodies + play with friends.

– The Walker playground site designs and surveying were done by Timmons Group. In addition to donating part of their services, the Timmons reps were responsive and kind, a joy to work with. Thanks, Timmons, for contributing to our community!

The Bama Works Fund provided one of the first grants to the Walker playground. We appreciate Bama Works’ belief in our project from the beginning and their support of Charlottesville kids.

– A big thanks to VMDO Architects for generously donating services to the Walker playground project. VMDO team members Shawn Mulligan, Kristen Hill, & Maria Bninksi provided guidance throughout and did an amazing job leading the live virtual sessions to engage community ideas.

– Shawn Mulligan also engaged volunteers from AIA Central Virginia to create initial designs for the playground site, providing inspiration about what we could build. Thank you, Shawn and AIA Central Virginia Emerging Professionals!

– It was important to us from the beginning that the Walker playground be accessible. SL Williamson donated – completely free! – their paving services to ensure community access to the playground – and the Crow Rec Center. Thank you, SL Williamson, for showing up for Cville kids. https://slwilliamson.com.

Lions Clubs of Virginia and Charlottesville Lions gave a generous grant to the Walker playground. The Lions support numerous community projects, including playgrounds across VA. We appreciate their support for opportunities for kids to grow strong through play!

– The Walker playground project was supported in part by a grant from Crutchfield, a Central VA business supporting Central VA communities. Thank you, Crutchfield!

Ting donated to the Walker playground project. Ting has given generously to support many local Cville initiatives, and we are grateful to be one of them!

Digs, Inc. is a locally-owned business that supported the Walker playground. Digs has been in charge of renovating the ADA parking spaces & pathway that connects the playground to the lower parking lot Walker shares w/ Crow Rec Center, to bring them into compliance. Thanks, Digs!

MTS Recreations, the vendor for the Walker playground equipment, was wonderful to work with. Our main MTS rep, Philip Smith, went above and beyond to help us plan for, order, and install the playground.

– We had a last-minute challenge with the Walker playground when the wrong part was sent for one of the equipment pieces. The scheduled ETA for correct part was October. We contacted Little Tikes, explained we needed the piece before school started, and they overnighted it to us!

City of Charlottesville, Va and Charlottesville City Schools both contributed funding to build the playground and ADA renovations. As Walker Principal Adam Hastings says, “Walker is the first place in Charlottesville in which we ask over 700 of our neighbors to get along.” An investment in Walker students is one that will benefit Cville for many years to come, and we are grateful to have the partnership of our City and Cville City Schools!

– Many Charlottesville individuals made financial contributions to the Walker playground. Thank you to each one of you. Thank you for believing in our children. Thank you for believing in the power of play to support their wellbeing.

Author: Christa

I founded Community Well to offer community-building consulting services to nonprofits and political advocacy organizations. I work with nonprofits that provide health, education, job, and housing services and with initiatives that promote progressive public policies. communitywell.com

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