Live Violence Free youth group designs playground in South Lake Tahoe
Who better to design a playground than a group of middle school girls with first-hand knowledge on what slide gives the best ride?
On Saturday, Oct. 8, a new playground was installed at the South Lake Tahoe location of Live Violence Free. It was designed by a youth committee for use by the organization’s clients and families, and assembled by volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Live Violence Free, originally founded in 1977 as the South Lake Tahoe’s Women’s Center, provides education and advocacy for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. The agency has grown over the years to offer more services like age-appropriate child abuse prevention education in local schools and a supervised visitation program, Parent to Parent.
The creation of the new playground is just one part of an outdoor redesign for Live Violence Free, said Cristi Creegan, president of the agency’s board of directors.
“One of the main things we wanted to do was put in a privacy fence, because really confidentiality is at the heart of the organization,” said Creegan, who estimates they serve around 1,000 clients in South Lake Tahoe.
Phase two was a Zen Garden dedicated to the late Jennifer Kline, an advocate for Alpine County who passed away unexpectedly in March.
“She was so beloved in this community,” expressed Creegan.
Phase three, the playground, was spearheaded by a group of 10 young girls who dedicated their time to creating a safe and happy space for Live Violence Free families.
“They had several meetings … They knew what the budget was. They created designs, aerial schematics, about what they wanted. They went online; they chose products. We talked a lot about who this was for,” said Creegan.
“So they really thought a lot about what would appeal to the kids who are coming to the organization. What they need as part of a playground. So it’s not only a place to play, but a place to sit and contemplate. I thought it was cool that they came up with that.”
Creegan’s 12-year-old daughter Darby was the head of the design committee and recruited other students to take part in the project.
“It was important to me and my friends to help kids remember that life can be fun,” said the South Tahoe Middle School student.
The girls are now working to complete murals that will be hung on the fence to liven up the playground area.
“The first one they did was a big, purple peace sign with their names and spaces for kids who use the playground to put their names,” explained Creegan.
The final outdoor project is a small amphitheater for storytelling or book readings.
The outdoor overhaul had a budget of $10,000—half of which came from Vail Resort’s charity, EpicPromise Foundation. Blue Shield donated funds for the project as well, while Barton Health donated services for outdoor play therapy.
Live Violence Free is funded by grants and donations. The agency offers emergency and transitional housing, as well as free legal services for victims of violence.
“We have a fantastic attorney. He has had as many as 55 open cases and he does everything from temporary restraining orders, to custody and divorce,” said Creegan, pointing to a high demand for these types of services in the South Lake Tahoe area.
“I had a doctor the other day say that she has lived in many different communities, but she has never seen the level of trauma in families that she has seen here.”
Find out more about Live Violence Free at http://www.liveviolencefree.org. For a 24-hour crisis hotline, call 530-544-4444.