Child's Play: Healthtrax helps fund a park accessible to all youngsters.

In February, Healthtrax Fitness & Wellness Center in Newington, Conn., made a permanent mark in its community by helping to raise money for a special park. Scheduled to be built in the fall of 2001, the park will be the first, new, universally accessible playground in the community.

Bearing the name “Our Children's Place,” the playground will make it possible for kids with or without disabilities to play together. The park will feature special surfaces for wheelchairs, universally accessible playground equipment and a universally accessible water park.

Healthtrax learned of the project from a member with a disabled son named Michael, a boy who has touched the hearts of many of the club's staff. Realizing that the park provided the perfect opportunity to help the community, while also helping Michael, the staff decided to put together a fund-raiser unlike the other ones held to raise money for the playground project.

Previously, the Children's Place committee had held fund-raising events such as auctions and dinner galas, but they were all large-ticket events. The Healthtrax staff decided to combine exercise and entertainment activities into a “Play Day” — a more affordable event that would allow others in the community to support the building of the park.

A local graphic designer and printer donated their services to create a brochure that promoted Play Day. The Healthtrax staff also donated their time and were on hand to provide all setup and cleanup.

On the day of the event, Healthtrax was closed and only Play Day attendees were allowed entrance. In exchange for a small fee, of which 100 percent went to Our Children's Place, attendees participated in a variety of activities, including cardio kickboxing, swimming, court sports, cardio equipment training, walleyball and more. A local clown named Sparkle also donated her time to entertain the families and brought a festive feel to the event. Refreshments, donated by a local market, were on hand for those looking to snack during the event.

The event was a huge success. Lasting only three hours and serviced by a clown, 16 staff members and a handful of Our Children's Place committee members, Play Day raised $600. The event drew 114 nonmembers and approximately 125 members. The staff felt very positive about the accomplishment and were glad that Healthtrax could assist its community without just writing a check.

Play Day is to become an annual event at Healthtrax to assist the park in the cost of upkeep and improvements in the years to come. In recognition of Healthtrax's contribution, Our Children's Place granted the club a permanent mark in the park with a star plaque on the castle that, upon the park's completion, will serve as the entrance.


REACHING OUT

Has your club done something in your community that you're proud of? Have you gone beyond the call of duty to help a member overcome numerous obstacles? If so, we want to know about it. Contact Renée Cocchi at Club Industry, Community Builders, One Plymouth Meeting, Suite 501, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462. E-mail: renee_cocchi@intertec.com Fax: (610) 238-0992