Miriam Machuca, 12, is a sister, a daughter and a friend. She is an elementary school graduate partly nervous and partly excited about seventh grade and middle school. And now she is a playground designer.
Machuca brainstormed Tuesday at Huff Elementary School during a design day for a new playground at Wright Avenue park. She squeezed a tire swing, a tall slide, a seesaw, benches, monkey bars, a maze, a soccer field and a basketball court onto her sheet of paper.
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By the end of September, at least some of her ideas will be a reality, transforming the park across the street from her house and giving her a fun, safe place to play every single day.
Machuca's mom, Maria, said her kids often get splinters at the current playground -- Elgin's last wooden one -- which makes her especially excited for the redesign.
KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit trying to make sure every child is within walking distance of a park, has brought together Discover Financial Services as the funder and United Way and the City of Elgin as community partners for the project.
Discover will pay for the majority of the playground with a local contribution of $12,500 split between the United Way and the city. Cost will not be determined until the design is finalized but Danielle Trezek, the project manager for KaBOOM!, said Discover regularly funds larger-than-average playgrounds.
Elissa Kojzarek, the United Way point person on the project, said many kids in the neighborhood walk to a park at Huff Elementary School, crossing busy streets to get there or a foot bridge over Poplar Creek.
"We just want to make sure the kids in that neighborhood have a new, safe park to play at without having to cross a busy street or a creek to get there," Kojzarek said.
A build day is planned for Sept. 28 when 500 volunteers are expected to erect the playground equipment at Wright Avenue Park. KaBOOM! will spend the next two months planning the volunteer effort and ordering supplies.
Discover employees from the corporate headquarters in Riverwoods will participate as part of their Discover Cares Month activities. And the Machuca family and their neighbors are already planning to be in line to help.