MASON CITY, Iowa - A local playground has become unsafe because of deteriorating conditions. Now a group of students is stepping in to make some improvements.
Mason City and Newman Catholic High Schools participating in YIELD (Youth Investing Energy in Leadership Development) identified the need to restore the beloved Prairie Playground at East Park. Last fall, students met with city staff to address concerns with the playground, and also completed a safety report card from the National Program for Playground Safety. The group raised money to cover project expenses, which included replacing and laying down mulch, replacing and repairing old equipment, and stain wood throughout the playground.
For Juniors Matthew Henrich (Newman Catholic) and Makenna Hansen (Mason City), the project speaks to them personally: they came to the playground when they were younger. Now, they want to preserve it for the next generation to come and enjoy it as much as they did.
"It's always been a part of who we are, and growing up, we appreciated it so much. I think the kids nowadays don't respect playgrounds as much, so we thought we'd try and get them back on them," Henrich says.
"East Park is super important to everyone, and we know it's important to the community too. We wanted our project to be meaningful to everyone," Hansen says.
In addition, they hope that their project will teach and grow civic pride.
"When we got into YIELD, the most important thing to us was making a difference in our community and making sure our difference was made for our YIELD class, and for the future of everyone else," Hansen says.
"By doing it, it really inspires others to get out in their community and do the same thing, and help out whenever you can," Henrich says.
Volunteers from the River City Kiwanis Club, Coloff Media, Alliant Energy and Bergland + Cram helped out students during their work day on Wednesday.
YIELD is under the stewardship of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce. The goal is to provide leadership training for high school students.