Washington — Peace Corps volunteer Anne Jasperson of Corvallis, Oregon, is working with people in her Ukrainian community to build a playground that will ensure that children have a safe place to play.
“Playgrounds are a vital part of communities, as they provide children with physical, social and mental benefits as well as helping children build self-confidence,“ said Jasperson, a graduate of the University of Denver. “In my community, children don’t have a safe place to gather and play. Instead, they play on old, broken equipment which is dangerous and very limiting.”
Community members will clean up the area before construction and plant flowers and trees around the playground. A local construction company will be in charge of the maintenance and cleaning to ensure the playground is safe and accessible to children. The town council is donating the land for the playground and purchasing a sandbox, benches and garbage cans for the area.
“Everyone recognizes the importance of having a safe place for children in the community to congregate and have contributed their time and manpower accordingly,” said Jasperson, who has been living and working as a community development volunteer in Ukraine since March 2011. “The safety of the children within this community is paramount. Community members have recognized the need for safer play areas and are working diligently to address this need.”
A portion of the funds for the project will be raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which helps support Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide. The community donated 38 percent of the total cost for the project. To receive funding through the Partnership Program, a community must make a 25 percent contribution to the cost and outline success indicators for the individual projects. This helps ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability.
More than 2,500 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Ukraine since the program was established in 1992. Currently, about 536 volunteers serve there. Volunteers work in the areas of education, economic development and youth development. They are trained and work in Russian and Ukrainian.