HAZLETON, Pa. -- A playground in Luzerne County at the Hazleton Integration Project is marking a milestone: its one year anniversary.
Last June, that playground was installed at the center known as HIP, which was created by Chicago Cubs Manager and Hazleton native Joe Maddon.
It's the sights and sounds of carefree happiness at the playground on East 4th Street in the city. It's also the sign of a successful first year for the playground.
“They love being outside. They love playing out here,” said Elaine Maddon Curry, Maddon’s cousin. “We're only a year old and in that short period of time, our kids are so used to being able to come out here.”
HIP was founded by Maddon, and last June, he helped install the playground through donations of his own and donations from Hazleton Creek Properties.
Maddon said this playground is an effort to get children off their computer screens and back to playing with one another.
“Prior to this, our students never came out. Our children never came out here, but now that we have this space, they get to play. They get to be out in the sun,” said Curry.
The playground, which is gated and secured, provides a safe place for children as other playgrounds in the city have problems with violence and crime.
While the closed-in playground helps protect children from unwanted elements, it's also designed to prevent them from accidentally hurting one another. There are two sets of jungle gyms, one for bigger kids and one for small kids.
“Yes, it's a good idea because we have different ages from kindergarten, or actually pre-K, all the way to eighth grade, so it's good to have different areas to have for them. That way they don't get into each other,” said executive director Ben Medina.
But of course, to know how much of an impact this playground has had, go to the experts. When asked what their favorite things to do at the playground, one youngster responded, “To play ninja turtles!”
“I go on the slide with my feet,” said a little girl as she turned an ran up the slide.
A founding director of HIP says $250,000 worth of donations made this playground possible.