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Editor: Creativity, spirit drive Race to Play aspiration

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OF all this community’s assets, one of the most overlooked is a creative spirit that can accomplish the unexpected.

That spirit was recently demonstrated in a variety of programs that fall under the city’s Race to Play program, an effort to revitalize playgrounds around the city. Several achievements already have been chalked up under its auspices.

One of the most noteworthy was the invasion of several Columbus neighborhoods by a small army of volunteers who were brought together in a coordinated effort. The neighborhoods around the Pence Street, Morningside and Ninth Street parks along with a triangular slice of East Columbus from McKinley Avenue and State Street to the city limits received facelifts from teams affiliated with Cummins Inc. and several churches.

The park cleanup efforts went beyond policing of grounds for litter. In some of the areas, volunteers removed dilapidated structures that had been eyesores for several years.

The cleanup of the parks didn’t end with last month’s blitz. The Cummins teams plan to make maintenance a yearlong effort in each of the affected areas.

Some of the materials removed from two of the parks — Pence Street and Morningside — will have new lives in another country. The playground equipment was dismantled by volunteers from the Kids Alive International ministry and eventually will be refurbished and sent to the Kids Alive Christian school in Karundas, Kenya.

Last week, students from Columbus North High School and horticulturists from the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department planted trees and shrubs at the Ninth Street, Morningside and Pence Street parks as part of the communitywide Arbor Day celebration.

Race to Play targeted parks in specific neighborhoods that were in need of attention; but by restoring these areas to life, city crews and a small army of volunteers have given the entire community a very welcome gift.

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