Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two Washington state girls raise funds to build therapeutic playground


BREMERTON, Wash. -- Two girls in Bremerton have accomplished something that adults didn't even try to tackle.

Best friends Paris Harrison and Alanna Nixon (pictured) dreamed of tackling a project bigger than planning another sleepover. The girls asked Kitsap Mental Health Services for community service suggestions.

"And none of them really we grabbed on to," Harrison said.

The initial ideas were too simple and small.

"Then I thought, 'Do I dare mention the playground?' This is really big," Nixon said.

The project? A $30,000 therapeutic playground for kids suffering autism, fetal alcohol syndrome or deep depression at Madrona Day School.

"We were 11, had no idea what we were doing," Harrison said.

Somehow the girls mustered the muscle and money -- 94 yards of chipped wood, a donation of $10,000 -- to build the playground.

The home-schooled eighth and ninth graders put on presentations for the Elks and Rotarians.

"It was really hard (but) got easier 'cause we were shy," Nixon said.

And now their heads are spinning with happiness as this week they'll finally see the students they've helped.

"It's amazing to know helping someone who can't help themselves," Harrison said.

The kids raised $8,000 more than they needed, so they used that to buy more equipment for the playground, including a climbing wall.

And now, the friends are already talking another dream, building a bigger school to go with the playground.

"Anything's possible if you put your heart and mind into it," Harrison said.