SPRINGFIELD TWP.: If you build it, they will come — especially if it is designed for fun.
That’s the premise Bobby Dinkins, director of the Boyd Esler Senior and Community Center, used when he launched the plan to get an adult playground built on the edge of Springfield Lake.
The playground, in the planning stages for more than a year, opened with much fanfare Thursday.
The eight pieces of low-impact athletic equipment designed especially for older adults is believed to be only the second of its kind in the country, Dinkins said. He has been told the only other playground in the U.S dedicated to seniors is located in Arizona.
He is certain it is the first built in Ohio.
“In 2010, I started looking for more activities for seniors and Googled ‘playgrounds,’ ” Dinkins said Thursday. The only ones he could find online are in several European countries.
Dinkins took his proposal to Summit County Councilwoman Paula Prentice, who suggested he look into obtaining a Community Block Development Grant to finance the playground. She put him in touch with several people who were willing to help with the application.
“I heard that it takes a village to raise a kid, but I found out very quickly that it takes a village to apply for a CBD Grant,” Dinkins said to laughter from the crowd, made up of seniors, township trustees and several county officeholders.
In October, the township learned it was awarded $33,500 to buy the equipment and have it erected.
On Thursday, several adults from the senior center tried out the new line of equipment from KOMPAN Inc. of Tacoma, Wash., as the Goodyear blimp cruised overhead in blue sky.
Usually, the senior center members get together for card games — pinochle on Mondays and euchre on Fridays, said Brenda Turner, 71, and Wanda Lee, 73, who waited for their turns to try out a machine they thought would help them trim their waistlines.
“After sitting for a few hours [playing cards], it will be fun to come out here,” Lee said.
Bill Croghan was climbing on a pedal machine when he reminded the women what is on the menu for today’s card game.
“Don’t forget. We’re having pizza this Friday,” he said.
“Then we can come down here and work it off,” Lee shot back at him.
County Councilwoman Sandra Kurt said the playground would give seniors another reason to come out and enjoy each other’s company while having fun in the process.
“Interacting socially with others benefits the mind, which is vital to a healthy aging process, and lowers the need for medical services,” Kurt said.
County Executive Russ Pry congratulated Dinkins and township officials on the acquisition of the playground.
“This will really make a big difference in the lives of the seniors in this area,” Pry said.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com