Labor goes all in for Kade’s Playground

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Groundbreaking
BREAKING GROUND for Kade’s Playground, an Unlimited Play, universal access playground in Herculaneum on Oct. 11, Bart Velasco, president of the Jefferson County Labor Club pledged that union labor would be the first on site and the last to leave. – Chuck Demoulin/IBEW Local 1 photo

Unlimited Play playground will provide a place for children of all abilities to play together

By TIM ROWDEN

Editor

Herculaneum, MO – Organized Labor gives back in a variety of ways throughout the year – providing electrical upgrades, heater inspections and other home improvements to elderly home owners who could not afford to pay for it, collecting coats and school supplies for needy children, and helping charitable organizations like the United Way, Assistance League and the Arnold Food Pantry provide for those in need.

But Kade’s Playground, a roughly $1 million project to build an Unlimited Play recreation facility in the city of Herculaneum in Jefferson County, Mo., is an example of just how giving and big-hearted union members can be.

Unlimited Play is a non-profit organization based in St. Peters that helps plan, design and build fully accessible playgrounds that allow all children – regardless of their abilities – to play together.

EVERY TRADE INVOLVED

Artists Rendering
AN ARTIST’S RENDERING of the volcano-themed Kade’s Playground in Herculaneum.

St. Louis Building & Construction Trades, Jefferson County Labor Club, City of Herculaneum and Unlimited Play, Inc. have teamed to create the volcano-themed playground – the first universally accessible playground in Jefferson County.

“When they presented this, every craft in the Building Trades said they wanted to help create a place and an atmosphere where children from all walks of life and all abilities can play together,” Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary-treasurer of the Building Trades said.

“Things like this go on all the time in the Building Trades and our unions, and people don’t really hear about it,” Aboussie said.

“This one is special because it involves children. This is going to be one of the most elaborate playgrounds in Jefferson County and around here,” Aboussie said. “When they came to talk with us, every one of the crafts raised their hand and said ‘We’re in.’ ”

KADE’S STORY

The playground is being named after 3-year-old Kade Bauman, of Herculaneum, who was born with Mitochondrial Disease, causes a variety of complications including seizures developmental delays and, sadly, died on Oct. 14, 2011.

The playground will provide a place where all children with and without disabilities can play side-by-side, building confidence, strengthening muscles, exercising and fostering friendships in a state-of-the-art playground.

A groundbreaking was held Oct. 11 at Herculaneum City Park on Joachim Ave.

MORE THAN PLAY

In addition to the playground, the labor community is providing materials and man-hours to construct a pavilion, rest rooms, lighting and other amenities for the park.

“We made a commitment to them that we will have boots on the ground from the beginning to the end, Bart Velasco, president of the Jefferson County Labor Club said.

Goodwin Brothers Construction Co., in Festus is serving as the general contractor for the project.

Construction on the estimated eight-week project is expected to begin next spring.

‘NOT ANOTHER LIKE IT’

Victoria Schmitt Babb, community engagement director for Unlimited Play, was touched by labor’s commitment.

“The whole room was on board with the project,” Schmitt Babb said of presenting the project to the Building Trades. “They were so moved by the fact that it’s open for everybody. And there’s not another one like it in Jefferson County.”

Unlimited Play has helped construction similar playgrounds in St. Louis, Lake St. Louis, O’Fallon, St. Charles and Clayton.

About $880,000 in cash and in-kind donations has been raised so far for Kade’s Playground in Herculaneum, which Schmitt Babb said would be the biggest so far.

“It’s one of the most sophisticated projects we’ve ever done,” she said. “People will drive from all over just to experience this. It’s going to be a big draw.”

HOW TO DONATE

Donations can be made to Unlimited Play, Inc., 4140 Old Mill Parkway, St. Peters, and MO 63376. Please, place "Kade's Playground" in the Memo on the check.

After you donate, please email sarah.baker@herculaneumfire.com with your name and contact information so you can be placed on the contributor list.

To contact Editor Tim Rowden, email: tim@labortribune.com.

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