By MATT KOESTERS
HENRYVILLE — A plan to build something that would help bring the Henryville community together may fall apart if a new source of funding isn’t found quickly.
Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation and the Medwise Hoosier Alliance, Henryville Youth Sports had planned to begin construction on a new playground at the HYS Complex in March. A $40,000 match is required to receive the funds for the Safe Playground Build, and the HYS folks thought they had it together with some cash to spare. But just recently, HYS officials learned that $25,000 they expected will not be received.
“Unfortunately, the original $25,000 that had been offered to us, they are not able to do that at this time,” said Jennifer Badger with HYS. “So for us to still be able to continue to do the project, we still need to come up with an additional $20,000.”
HYS has until Feb. 18 to get the remaining $20,000 still needed to receive the grant funds from AmeriHealth Mercy. Otherwise, the project will likely be canceled.
“Hopefully we’ll make it,” Badger said. “We’re concerned that AmeriHealth Mercy might withdraw their support at that time. We’re hoping that we’ll be at least close enough that they’ll still consider doing the project.”
AmeriHealth Mercy identifies communities with high percentages of students living at or below the poverty level and lacking safe play areas. In conjunction with community partners and sponsors the foundation builds a new playground in one day, according to an AmeriHealth Mercy release. The foundation has built 16 playgrounds to date.
While AmeriHealth Mercy focuses on combating obesity and providing kids with a safe place to play, for HYS, the project is about creating a symbol of the community’s resilience in the wake of the March 2012 tornado that destroyed homes, schools and businesses in Henryville and other parts of Southern Indiana.
“The new playground space and plans for improved ballpark facilities will be a catalyst for rebuilding community ties, for families to come together, for people of all ages to experience joy and camaraderie in a shared space,” reads an HYS press release. “Our goal is that by the time this project is complete, nearly every citizen of Henryville will have participated in its success, and all will be able to enjoy the benefits.”
“[The Henryville Youth Sports Complex] is moving in the direction of just not being a sports park, but a community park,” said Adam Kleinert with HYS. “HYS has future plans of adding more pieces to this ... to make this much more accommodating to all lifestyles in our community.”
Other planned additions to the park include a walking trail, shelter house and improvements to the park’s ballfields.
To donate or to learn more about how you can help HYS make the Safe Playground Build a reality, contact Badger at 513-376-3839, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Pamela Bischoff with River Hills at email@example.com.