York, PA - With sweatshirts and hoodies protecting them against the spring breeze, more than a dozen people worked Tuesday attaching platforms, bridge rails and slides to a playground at Jackson Township's first park.
"The whole strata of the community are here -- the young, the old and everyone in between," said township supervisor David Brown.
Volunteers included community members, township staff and students from River Rock Academy, an alternative-education school for students in grades six through 12.
"I think it's important to give back. It's important for the kids to see what happens when they give back," Terry Choate, behavior counselor at River Rock, said as his students helped screw on panels of bars that would serve as walls to the raised platforms.
The all-ages playground is at Mesa Lane and Ledge Drive in the Jackson Heights subdivision between Route 116 and Grandview Road. The developer donated the land in lieu of paying a recreation fee.
Stone Ledge Park features two playgrounds: one for children ages 2 to 5, and another for older children. It also has basketball courts, game tables and a walking trail. Eventually, the township plans to include a path to the Hanover Trolley Trail.
Money for the community-built playground came from a grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, according to Kate Werntz, executive director of Spring Grove Parks and Recreation Center.
"I think it's important since it's the first park to bring the community together," Werntz said.
At a time when schools are cutting costs and childhood obesity is a growing concern, communities need recreation spaces, she said.
"Providing recreation and a playground is about giving kids a chance to play, which plays an intrinsic part in developing socially and physically," said Stephen Hemler, a certified playground safety inspector with General Recreation Inc. It gives children a place to play and to play safely, Hemler said.
Brown, who served more than 30 years as a police officer, said he understand firsthand how giving kids something to do helps reduce crime and vandalism.
"I'm a frequent user of the rail trail, and I think that's a gem of the county. I'd like to see a few gems in the township," said Brown, who added that a half-dozen people were using the park last week when the board of supervisors visited. "This will be the first of many."
Stone Ledge Park will officially open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 18.