Alcott Field of Dreams – one dream at a time

FieldofDreams_MichalBacosThe Lincoln Park neighborhood is very vibrant and fashionable. The residential areas are cozy and just like many other neighborhoods in Chicago, the residents take pride in where they live.  So when Alcott Elementary School needed to restore its field and playgrounds, many of the parents in the community volunteered to help out.  One of them is Alicia Haruska, the community director of Alcott Field of Dreams.

She states that there was not one specific incident that caused her to take action into beautifying the fields and playgrounds around the school.  Alcott Field of Dreams believes that the neighborhood just deserves a beautiful place for kids to play, parents to get together, and even a place where families can gather for storytelling and music. The park around Alcott is not just for students; it’s for the community.  However, due to a lack of funding from Chicago Public Schools, the city government is unable to assist the neighborhood in acting on that objective.

Luckily, the parent volunteers of Alcott got together and helped wrangle community support into funding Alcott Field of Dreams.  The organization convinced big name businesses like Kuma’s Too, Chase, Merrill Lynch, and Chicago’s 43rd Ward Alderman Michelle Smith, to name a few, to help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for their cause.  And within the next few weeks, they will have completed the first phase of the project: to improve the drainage system and create a beautiful outdoor amphitheater with an orchard of crab apple trees where both students and teachers can learn outside and the community can enjoy outdoor performances.

However, this is only the beginning.  The second phase of the project is a huge undertaking.  The $1.2 million project is going to involve refurnishing the entire field outside of Alcott.  The field has a lot of bare spots and there are 5-6 manhole covers, which makes it unsafe for kids to play.  Alcott Field of Dreams also plans to redo the outside pathway around the field and create an outdoor running track, which is currently uneven and has many cracks.  They also plan on redoing the basketball court, which needs a major facelift due to an uneven surface, and making room for a four-square court.

The final phase of this project is creating a playground that is safe for children from the age of 3-6 to play.  The foam surface on the playground prevents potential tripping hazards for children.

Despite the lack of resources from the city, the Alcott Field of Dreams tapped into its own community to make their goals happen.  While the mission isn’t over yet, Alicia and her fellow parent volunteers have demonstrated what the phrase “it takes a community” truly means.

To learn more about Alcott Field of Dreams, check out their site at http://www.alcottfieldofdreams.com.

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