The Pride Center at Equality Park, South Florida’s leading social center for LGBT people, has launched a campaign to build and operate a $75,000 interactive playground as a safe space for families.
The “goal is to provide a safe-space for same-sex couples or single parents to bring their children and let them play,” Pride Center Chief Executive Officer Robert Boo said Wednesday.
“Their parents can be talking, sharing best practices, having that space in judgment-free zone,” Boo said. “The kids don’t have to explain why they have two mommies or two daddies or any of that stuff.”
Boo said “there’s no other known LGBT community center that has a playground, anywhere.”
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Last year, the Pride Center, at 2040 N. Dixie Hwy. in Wilton Manors, provided on-campus services to more than 30,000 people and came into contact with more than 75,000, Boo said.
Many of those people have children, he said.
The playground will be 2,500 square feet and the Pride Center is asking community members to volunteer and help build it on Friday, Oct. 16.
“For many of these families, the playground represents more than a playground,” said Kristofer Fegenbush, the center’s chief operations officer. “It’s the first tangible thing here in South Florida that says ‘Our families matter.’”
Here’s the complete news release:
The Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors will be building a playground to accommodate the growing need for a safe play area that provides social support, mentoring and educational and creative development for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) families in South Florida. To make this vision a reality, The Pride Center has launched a $75,000 fundraising challenge and is seeking community volunteers to help construct the 2,500-square-foot interactive playground (roughly half of the size of an NBA basketball court) on Friday, October 16. When completed, it will be the first playground of its kind in the United States to be situated on a LGBT campus.
“A playground is more than just a physical space. Creative play is developmentally important for our children and future leaders. It’s a brain-expander, a friend-maker and a mentor-connector,” said Robert Boo, CEO of The Pride Center at Equality Park. “Together, with our national benefactors plus the support of the local business community and volunteers, we can meet our mission of providing a welcoming space that celebrates, nurtures and empowers the LGBT community and our friends and neighbors in South Florida while setting an example for other national organizations.”
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, about one-fifth of same-sex couples (more than 9,000) in Broward County are raising children. This follows the growing trend of LGBT parents who are raising about two million children, nationwide.
Surveys of local LGBT parents at The Center over the past few years indicate that parenting presents unique challenges and that there are insufficient resources and services, locally. The Pride Center team encourages the community to embrace the challenge to advance more creative, social, educational and networking events and resources for families.
“With the national legislation of gay marriages and state adoptions by gay couples, we are evolving to fulfill our mission,” added Boo. “As our stakeholders expand their families, we must be prepared to respond to this changing environment and the playground build is an ideal start.”
On August 18, The Pride Center hosted a Design Day during which local children participated in the creative planning process. Approximately 20 children colorfully illustrated their dream play space and presented them to project managers. Their input will be vital in helping The Price Center create a one-of-a-kind personalized play experience.
Adele Barsky Moore, 12, envisioned a colorful regional-themed space.
“I like rainbows and a lot of things that challenge the muscles – such as a rock-climbing wall, tire slides and tall slides,” Barsky-Moore shared. “I’d like to see a Florida-themed playground that has underwater fish, a coral reef, mermaid designs and maybe a grotto.”
Other participants ages five and up envisioned waterslides, monkey bars, a zipline, a castle playground, treehouses, boats, and wading pools. Parents expressed enthusiasm about the utilization of eco-friendly materials, shade features, weather-resistant construction, handicapped accessibility and clear sight lines to their children.
To coincide with the playground build on October 16, a goal of $30,000 has been set and earmarked for site preparation and build. Approximately 150 volunteers still are needed for Build Day. Forty volunteers are needed for Prep Days on October 14 and 15.
The remaining $45,000 goal will be applied toward additional project features including shade mitigation, fencing, landscaping, drinking fountain, maintenance and programming.
Organizations and individuals interested in volunteering and contributing funds, services and supplies should contact Kristofer Fegenbush, COO of The Pride Center at Equality Park, at (954) 463-9005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Pride Center at Equality Park
For more than 22 years, The Pride Center has provided a welcoming, safe space – an inclusive home – that celebrates, nurtures and empowers the LGBT communities and our friends and neighbors in South Florida. The Pride Center’s programs and services meet the distinct socio-economic, health, spiritual, and safety needs of the LGBT community. It hosts more than 65 regular meeting groups each month and more than 35,000 adults and youth attend activities at the Center, each year. Outreach activities over the past year directly impacted 60,000 residents and visitors to South Florida. For more information, visit www.pridecenterflorida.org.