Hurricane Katrina

Kids draw dream playground

PASCAGOULA - Purple and orange balloons strained at the strings attached to the leg of Noah Floyd while he put on paper his idea of a dream playground during the Community-Build Playground Project Design Day on Tuesday at Central-Beach Elementary School.

"I want those slides that circle and three slides in one," said Noah, 7.

Alexis Taylor, 8, also likes spiral slides, and water slides are her favorite. "I think (design day) was a great idea."

Jen De Melo of California, project manager for KaBOOM!, talked about design, safety and care of the equipment that will be built at Central. She told the eight students, teachers and parents that the project would have one-of-a-kind a feature.

"You guys are going to get this really cool thing that I've never even built before, called a Dino Dig," De Melo said. "A Dino Dig only happens down here. What it is, is a gigantic sandbox with dinosaur bones in there. It's pretty cool."

Parents and teachers chose the best of the designs, which could include a combination of features. They and community volunteers, including sailors from Mesa Verde, will help build the play area.

De Melo said KaBOOM!, a nonprofit recreational company, plans to build 100 playgrounds over two years in Mississippi and Louisiana areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Central's playground will be among 10 constructed during a week in August to commemorate the anniversary of the hurricane.

Teacher Rachel Guess and PTO President LaTrenia Taylor think the playground will motivate the students and help them recover from Katrina. "In this area they lost so much, and it gives them hope and inspiration that things are getting better, things are going to be better," Taylor said.

Yeager said she called KaBOOM! about a playground because Central Elementary had been raising funds before Katrina to replace rusting and dangerous equipment.

"The playground we could have afforded to put out there is going to be nothing compared to what we are getting," she said.