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Kingwood, WV

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Park enhancements

Description: Although this project originally set out to expand social activities at Decker's Creek Park, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to pivot. Instead, the Preston County Parks and Recreation Commission made improvements to the park's green space to increase walkability and accessibility for park visitors. They added an accessible picnic table, raised garden beds, trash cans, an information kiosk and a wooden sign for the park. They also planted the garden beds with pollinator-friendly perennials, with plans to invite the local Master Gardeners to use the plots in the future. In addition, the Parks and Recreation Commission painted and replaced boards on the park's pedestrian bridge. Since these upgrades, the Commission reports more visitors to the park, as well as an uptick in youth volunteer service. Recent projects include a new picnic table, outdoor classroom, little free library and bench.

Pensacola, FL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Park enhancements

Description: Keep Pensacola Beautiful's mission is to beautify public parks in low-income neighborhoods. The nonprofit launched its Harmony Park program in Englewood Park with the installation of three interactive musical instruments -- two types of xylophones and a colorful drum set. This created an unusual, educational opportunity for play for children at the neighboring Boys and Girls Club, who benefit from music lessons at the site. KPB's executive director Sigrid Solgard stressed that no musical experience was necessary to play the instruments. The notes are supposed to sound good together in any combination, she said.

Lawrence, NE

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Park enhancements

Description: The local park in Lawrence lacked places for visitors to sit. To make the park more accessible for people of all ages and abilities, the Nuckolls County Federation and Lawrence Community Fund installed park benches and ADA-compliant picnic tables near the town's swimming pool and sports fields. The improvements built on work the partners already do to provide amenities for the village, including playground equipment and trash receptacles. Now that the park is more welcoming, community members are looking into other ways to improve the space, including replacing an outdated merry-go-round.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Pittsfield, ME

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2024

Project Category: Walk Audits

Description: Two walk audits along the main entry point into town will identify pedestrian safety concerns and possible solutions. The town will recruit older adults to take part and share their experiences using the corridor.

Bethel, ME

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: To provide residents with places to sit and gather, the Bethel Age-Friendly Community partnered with local artists and craftspeople to create benches and picnic tables. As a thank-you to organizations that have supported age-friendly work in the region, organizers gave the seating to partner organizations who assist with age-friendly programming, events and volunteer efforts. The benches and tables now sit in each of the six towns that make up the Bethel region. Each table is adorned with a chess board and each bench features decorations that pay homage to the town where it sits, with volunteers chipping in to paint the furniture. Organizers say they hope the project demonstrates the value of simple public space enhancements.

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