Teens tackling adult-sized fundraiser

Paris Harrison (left) and Alanna Nixon, home-schooled teenagers from Silverdale, are raising funds to build a therapeutic playground for Kitsap Mental Health Services.  - Celeste Cornish/staff photo
Paris Harrison (left) and Alanna Nixon, home-schooled teenagers from Silverdale, are raising funds to build a therapeutic playground for Kitsap Mental Health Services.
— image credit: Celeste Cornish/staff photo

Call it divine intervention, delivered via a phone call.

Rochelle Doan, spokeswoman for Kitsap Mental Health Services, recalled that, at one point, there was talk of a therapeutic playground being built on the site at the mental health service’s East Bremerton campus. The playground would serve the facility’s Madrona Day Treatment School, which benefits children with emotional and behavioral issues their schools cannot accommodate. With a price tag of $30,000, the playground was chalked up as a pipe dream.

Then, the phone rang. Two home-schooled teenagers from Silverdale were looking for a community service project.

Doan pitched several smaller-scale ideas. The girls, Alanna Nixon and Paris Harrison, shunned the smaller projects. When Doan mentioned the playground, the girls jumped at the chance.

“We just want to do something to help the program,” Nixon said.

Now, under the auspices of Kids Helping Kids, a nonprofit through their church, Silverdale Seventh Day Adventist Church, the teens are focusing on their goal.

The Madrona Day Treatment School helps students with autism spectrum disorders, as well as fetal alcohol syndrome effects, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit, major depression and anxiety, Doan said. About half the students fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. These are the students who will benefit from the playground.

“Autistic children in particular tend to have difficulties regarding body coordination, standing, walking and sensitivity to their outer environment,” Doan said. “Most of the children are encouraged to engage in occupational therapy activities that involve balance, climbing, sliding, swinging and strength building, however many of these activities cannot be provided at the Madrona School because the school lacks the needed equipment.”

The children are currently bused off the site to play.

“The playground equipment we seek to purchase is durable and safe, meets child and school safety standards and includes a swing, slide, climbing poles and wall and other features, as well as soft-landing cover,” Doan said. Represent-atives from the manufacturer will supervise volunteers who build the playground.

To date, Kitsap Mental Health has received $11,000 for the therapeutic playground. It is still seeking funding through grants, civic groups and individual donations.

The girls’ ambition is impressive, as is their professionalism, Doan said. They’ve created a specific marketing plan and aren’t shy about recruiting others.

One fundraiser they’re looking to is a family fun night that will include dinner and silent auction, hosted at their church.

“We have openings for volunteers,” Nixon said with the poise of a seasoned fundraiser. “We need people to cook and donate games and material for the auction.”

The site for the playground already has been excavated. Construction is expected in May 2010.

For more information on the project, call Doan at (360) 415-5871.

To donate, send checks to Kids 4 Kids, P.O. Box 2432, Silverdale WA, 98383.

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