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New Playground Plans at Mitchell Park Emerge After 'Design Day'

What's considered child's play is also a huge assignment for the adults to organize, coordinate and execute a 9,000-square-foot playground near the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center.

"This is absolutely the top funnest thing I've ever done," said designer Jane Holman, who has been assigned the task of taking children's imagination and making it something to play on.

Holman works with Leathers and Associates, a firm that does nothing but create custom playgrounds for communities. She said the playground design for Mitchell Park she unveiled on Tuesday at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts will be "community-built with a little help from me."

The process began about two weeks ago in Brookfield elementary schools, with student committees designing what they'd like to see in their dream playground, according to Brookfield Junior Woman's Club member Jenni Jones.

The club decided to host the Design Day on Wednesday to get feedback from members on the community design.

"We were at Dixon Elementary today, but the kids have been working on this for some time," Jones said. "We do get to see what the favorites are, like slides and swings, but also what's the favorite trend, like zip lines and trampolines."

The key to the design with all of the bells and whistles is that it's also completely accessible for people of all abilities.

"This is an all-inclusive playground," Jones said. "It will be a solid-surface, multi-generational place for kids who may be in wheelchairs, but also for parents or grandparents to access to watch their kids play, no matter their abilities."

Once Holman takes the feedback from her young designers, she takes a few hours to sketch out her own design based on their requests. The design included bridges, a "bird house" and a type of swing called an oodle.

However, there's always room for more suggestions, and volunteers. Plenty of them.

The 9,000-square-foot design has not yet been assigned a price tag, but fundraising will be key and Jones is hoping that individuals, community and school groups, and local businesses will get involved to make the playground a reality. In addition, local talent is encouraged — artists and painters are also encouraged to add their signature to the play structures in the process of creation.

If you have neither money nor talent, time will be just as valuable, as hundreds of volunteers will be needed to assemble the playground in five days' time.

"Generally we start on a Wednesday, and work three shifts," explained Holman. "We have a morning crew, one at noon and another toward late afternoon into the evening. During this time, we'll also plan on feeding our volunteers, so there will be a need for food donations as well."

Holman estimated about 80 to 100 volunteers would be required for each shift on each day. It has a taste of "Extreme Makeover, Playground Edition" to it, don't you think?

Depending on how successful fundraising and coordination efforts go, Jones said they will aim for a fall 2013 or spring 2014 construction schedule.

If you are interested in getting involved in any way, contact Jones at 414-588-2055 or email jennijones@hotmail.com.

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