Kinston, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), the Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department and KaBOOM! joined forces Thursday to give area kids the play-filled childhood they deserve by building a new playground at Pearson Park in Kinston. Special features include climbing ropes, slides and a 15-foot stone dragon to a site that stood underwater following Hurricane Matthew. The new park will be inclusive and accessible to children with disabilities. It includes ramps that will allow kids with a variety of abilities to access the structure just about up to its highest point. In addition, many of the pieces allow for side-by-side play of kids with or without disabilities.
More than 200 volunteers from Blue Cross NC and the Kinston/Lenoir County Parks & Recreation Department and organizers from KaBOOM! came together to build the new playground that will bring more than 6,000 kids in Kinston one step closer to a fun, safe place to play and be active.
Historic flooding from Hurricane Matthew damaged city property and shut down county parks. Kids who live and play along the Riverwalk on the edge of the Neuse River currently do not have access to a playground.
“For developing children, a playground is more than just a playground. It’s a brain-expander, friend-maker and muscle-builder. Play is central to a child’s ability to grow into a productive adult,” said Kathy Higgins, vice president of corporate affairs at Blue Cross NC. “It can transform children from sedentary and solitary to physically, mentally and socially active.”
The Pearson Park playground, which was designed based on children’s drawings created at a special design event in April 2017, is the 10th built by Blue Cross NC and KaBOOM! with other playgrounds in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Asheville, Goldsboro, and Durham in North Carolina. Blue Cross NC supports KaBOOM! by volunteering at playground builds across the state, from the planning stages all the way through construction.
“We’re excited to be building one of the largest playgrounds in the area right here in downtown Kinston. This playground will offer all children the opportunity to play and interact with each other and will further enhance the Riverwalk area as destination for residents and visitors,” said Bill Ellis, director, Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department.
Since 1996, KaBOOM! has helped give all kids – particularly those growing up in underserved areas in America – the childhood they deserve, filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive. With its partners, KaBOOM! has built, improved and opened nearly 16,300 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers and served 8.1 million kids.
About The Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department
The Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department strives to offer all citizens the opportunity to develop their leisure time and interests by offering activities that promote the enrichment of life in the community. We also offer a creative outlet for developing physical fitness, sportsmanship, leadership, cultural arts, family unity and community spirit. The Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department serves all citizens regardless of physical or mental disability and will work to accommodate all persons.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) improves the health and well-being of our customers and communities by providing innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.89 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. Since 1933, we have worked to make North Carolina a better place to live through our support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. We have been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute every year since 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross NC online at bcbsnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids – particularly those growing up in poverty in America – the childhood they deserve filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build, open, or improve more than 16,700 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers, and served 8.5 million kids. KaBOOM! creates great places to play, inspires communities to promote and support play, and works to drive the national discussion about the importance of play in fostering healthy and productive lives. To learn why #playmatters and why cities are embracing #playability: visit kaboom.org or join the conversation at twitter.com/kaboom or facebook.com/kaboom.