Stetson Student Athletes to Lend a Hand at Local Landmark

Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 1:40PM

If you’re a DeLand native, the local Freedom Playground probably holds a special place in your heart. You may have played there as a kid, sat on the swings as a university student, or even brought your own children here to enjoy an afternoon outdoors!

Do these experiences sound familiar to you? If so, you’re not alone—an estimated 1.5 million children have enjoyed the Freedom Playground since its construction in 1991. That’s a lot of fun times and memories made!

Now, over 23 years later, the city’s beloved playground needs a little sprucing up. The park’s old, deteriorating wood materials are no longer the strong structures they once were, making the space less safe for our kids. But fortunately, you don’t have to worry… volunteers and local businesses are teaming up to return the playground to its former glory—and much of that help is coming from student athletes from nearby Stetson University!

We’re excited to see some of our local athletes helping to restore this beloved landmark—after all, many of them probably played on the swings and slides themselves as kids! But this is certainly not the first time Stetson athletes have pulled together to lend a helping hand to the community. Their tradition of service can even be traced back to the construction of the original Freedom Playground two decades ago! This generation of athletes is carrying on the tradition of service and community involvement, and that’s something we can all take pride in.

So what can we expect to see from Stetson student athletes during the park’s construction? Students will be taking part in the last leg of the project, which will take place in late October. Their work will likely include some final (but crucial) tasks involving the playground’s structure and finishing touches on the overall look of the play space. What they end up doing really depends on where construction is come late October… but we know that, when all is said and done, the student athletes and the rest of DeLand’s great community will have put together something truly special for the city’s future generations to enjoy.

The new and improved Freedom Playground will feature more sustainable materials, as well as a fun and challenging play area that’s handicap accessible. The project, which has been led by Freedom Playground Next Generation (a 501(c) (3) organization), is particularly focused on giving today’s kids a safe and enjoyable place to spend an afternoon. Because today’s youths are so often exposed to television and other less active forms of entertainment, Freedom Playground Next Generation felt it important to keep kids active—in fact, the project boasts the “Less television, more imagination” on its website and social media pages. And who better to demonstrate the importance of health and fitness than top tier student athletes from Stetson University?

Just can’t wait to get out there and enjoy the park? You don’t need to wait much longer… after the athletes complete their work at the park from October 25th through the 31st, Freedom Playground will be reintroduced to the public with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the beginning of November. You can visit the project website, freedomplaygrounddeland.com, to learn more about ways you can help and special upcoming events. We hope to see you there this fall!

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