The University of Oregon’s Outdoor Program (OP) garnered much needed attention to the Agate Playground yesterday by hosting a cleaning project — one they hope will kick-start a larger future renovation for the playground.
“Ultimately my hope is that this project will be only the beginning of the transition of Agate Playground into the park that it should be,” said Laughton Elliott De-Angelis, UO Outdoor Program service project coordinator.
Elliott De-Angelis shares that in speaking with nearby businesses, he has heard of the need and desire of the community members and businesses for further development and fundraising of the playground.
“Of the surrounding Hayward neighborhood businesses I have talked to, including Prince Pückler’s, Eugene City Bakery and Studio One, all have been interested in helping to support the development of Agate Playground into what it could be,” Elliott De-Angelis said.
Thirty individuals gathered to support the service project to give the playground a much needed aesthetic boost. Of the volunteer groups represented were Dog Tags to Ducks, a UO veteran student group, OP staff, UO students and nearby community members.
“Joining together to clean up the Agate Playground provides a clean and safe place for children living in the East Campus Family Housing to play and is a way we can demonstrate to the student parents at the UO our support of them as they juggle academic and parenting responsibilities,” said Gretchen Jewett, UO director of non-traditional education and support.
“And because the playground is also used by the greater community, this is an opportunity to give back and back and be good neighbors,” Jewett said.
The project started with an overall trash pickup, followed by a disbursement of volunteers into smaller groups to begin leveling uneven ground and spreading new bark chips (donated by UO Grounds), scrubbing mildew off playground equipment, pulling weeds and raking leaves.
Shannon Wallin, who lives nearby with her husband Jason and their two young daughters Linnea and Adelaide, were among the volunteers who gave their time and energy to the service project.
Shannon ‘s older daughter Linnea played with other children present. Her youngest, Adelaide, wandered around picking up golden leaves and presenting them to her mother.
“We just moved here six weeks ago from Washington because my husband got accepted into a doctoral program. But we have been to the park quite a few times already,” Wallin said.
It’s just the beginning of the goals the UO Outdoor Program has to further the goals of the Eugene community. An ideal that has become a centralized focus for the Outdoor Program in the last two years is that of service. Last year a position was created to specially facilitate service projects in UO and neighboring community teams.
“Service has always been a part of the Outdoor Program as it hits on many of our core values including emphasis on student responsibility, environmental stewardship and student empowerment. We hope to do our part to continue that element in the future.”