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Volunteers build playground for Chicora community - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Volunteers build playground for Chicora community

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NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

A community-wide effort to keep children healthy and safe in North Charleston.

Chicora has struggled with it's share of drugs and violence there in the past. Now, the neighborhood is getting a very positive message coming to their streets.

When area children left for school Friday morning, there was a grass field next to the community garden. When they returned in the afternoon, there was a shiny, new playground ready for them to enjoy.

Select Health of South Carolina led the efforts and with help from several agencies and the City of North Charleston- they were able to make it happen.

"There's children around and they want to play," said Bethaney Burnell, Chicora resident.

It took over 75 volunteers one day to complete a new, $100,000 playground for the Chicora community.

"The Chicora Cherokee area has lots of children who live here, but no place to play. So, we are out here to make sure that they have a place to play and be fit," said Cindy Helling, Executive Director of Select Health of South Carolina.

Neighborhood children hand picked what they wanted in the playground, all the way down to the color.

It's equipped with slides, climbing walls and spring rockers. They also used 45,000 pounds of mulch for a soft ground.

"It's really brightening up the neighborhood," said Burnell.

The new playground was built right next to the community garden and organizers hope that this will continue to inspire the parents and children to maintain healthy lifestyles.

Fred Volkman, Chief Medical Officer for Select Healthy of South Carolina, helped build the playground today and he says that the health benefits of having a place for children to be active goes beyond just weight control.

"When children are more active, when they have recess and other activity, they can focus better in school," said Volkman. "Studies show they can really be much more focused than if they were sitting around."

Organizers say they timed their work so that they would finish right as school was getting out. They're celebrating the new playground with the community and it's leaders Friday tonight with a potluck.

"They're going to be so excited about this," said Burnell.

The City of North Charleston, which has been a big supporter of this since it's early planning stages, has vowed to maintain the new park.

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