Playground brings abused kids joy - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Playground brings abused kids joy

July 21, 2005

Cairo-- There's no sadness at a special new playground in Cairo. But there was before it was built.

Boy scout Stephen Van Landingham designed the playground for Grady County's victims' services. "I decided to do it because I like building stuff," he says.

The children who play at the playground were all abused one way or another. Van Landingham and his troop wanted to ease their pain as a project to become Eagle Scouts. "We spent about 380 total hours on it," he says. He was only required to spend 60 hours on a project.

That's overtime that brought joy to traumatized children, and recognition to Van Landingham from District Attorney Joe Mulholland. He gave Van Landingham a certificate of appreciation for all of the hard work and diligence he has put into the project.

For the kids, the playground holds a much deeper meaning than just playing on a slide, or playing on a rock wall. It gives them an escape from their troubles that they might not find elsewhere. "They're traumatized, they're embarrassed, they're afraid. This is something that they can do and feel comfortable," says Mulholland.

That comfort is reflected in the sunny smiles on otherwise overcast faces. "The playground is so cute. I like it," says 3 year old, Bailey Trammell. "Cause it is so fun," adds fellow 3 year old, Jonathan Mitchell.

There's also comfort for Van Landingham, brought on by a sense of accomplishment. "It makes you feel good, like you've helped out the community," he says. Until now, that community had no other refuge for its most delicate victims.

The United Methodist Church's "Mustard Seed Foundation" raised $5,000 for the playground. It only cost $3,000 to build, so they let Victims' Services keep the rest of the money.

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