||Students transform Danville's Bate-Wood Park
RELEASED: November 5, 2009
By Leigh Ivey
DANVILLE, KY—For almost a year, a number of dedicated Centre College students have been striving to turn Danville's Bate-Wood Park into an inviting community retreat.
Having spent hundreds of hours brainstorming, organizing, collaborating with city officials, raising money, constructing a gazebo and installing playground equipment, the students are making remarkable headway.
The idea for the project was hatched last year, when George Stevens '11 and Justin Roush '10 served as volunteer youth soccer coaches in Danville.
"Justin initially had the idea to provide a cost-free soccer camp for children from disadvantaged backgrounds," Stevens says. "This led to our going to Bate-Wood, where there's government subsidized housing. And after seeing the park, we decided to renovate it."
Stevens and Roush were quickly joined by Jason Boldt '11, Josh Moore '10, Ronnie Phillips '11 (who has recently become the project leader), Tony Distler '12 and Andrew Hornick '12.
"The seven of us comprise the students who are actively working on this project," Stevens says, "but we've depended on the help of volunteers from the Centre community to install new equipment and clean up the park."
Wasting no time, the group quickly began raising money.
Since they first organized the park renovation project, the students have raised almost $30,000 for the undertaking, including a $7,000 donation from Centre's Student Government Association and an $18,000 donation from the Danville Board of Commissioners.
"It's been a great learning experience to branch out and communicate with people," Hornick says, "but a lot of the credit here goes to Ronnie Philips, who puts in unbelievable amounts of work to make sure that this park has as brilliant an outcome as it can. His persistence has been unreal, in terms of the ideas he has come up with so that we achieve our goal."
With the money raised, the group has built a playground structure "with a 'superdome,' a swing set and a gazebo, and has set up a soccer field complete with goals," Stevens says.
And on Nov. 7, the group installed $18,000 worth of playground equipment.
"From there," Stevens says, "we're pursuing a few grants with an eye toward rebuilding two basketball courts and a picnic shelter, as well as building paths throughout the park. In the spring, we'll begin organizing community programs, including soccer clinics, basketball clinics, art festivals and more."
Seeing the park take shape before their eyes has been exceptionally rewarding for those involved.
"I think the most enjoyable part is feeling like we're making a difference for people in Danville and the Bate-Wood area," Hornick says. "One of the coolest experiences I've had was when I was showing my parents the park when they were here for Family Weekend. There was a dad and his two children using the play structures we put in last spring, and just to know that we're realizing our goal of making the park a safe place that families can enjoy is an amazing thing."
Witnessing such activities continues to motivate the team in their quest to make the park remarkable.
"I've enjoyed making a difference in the lives of others," Distler says, "and giving a better park to a community that for so long has deserved one."
And although they are proud of their work thus far, they know that much remains to be done.
"Rebuilding this neglected community," Stevens says, "will be an ongoing process long after I've graduated from Centre."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422