Announcing a new way to stay informed... August 10, 2015 15:59We are excited to announce the new website: http://www.butterflytracks.com
This blog will have up to date progress information, editorials, and more in the journey to build the Children's Park of Georgia.
The first post here tells about the inspiration behind this blog. You will also find new posts with the latest park status and information on a wonderful rock garden not too far from metro Atlanta.
Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. While you're checking it out, don't forget subscribe to receive future updates by email.
Volunteer Meet and Greet - Dates Coming Soon July 27, 2015 10:00
The Children’s Park of Georgia will be a legacy for your children and for families generations to come. If you would like to use your skills and time to help us develop this amazing park to celebrate the lives of ALL children, we welcome your help. We will be establishing the following advisory committees and groups this fall. If you would like to participate, please join us at one of the meet and greet events in August or September. (Date and location to be announced on our site soon.) If you would like to be notified when these dates are announced, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This will be a great way to meet others in the community and participate together in a meaningful and lasting project.
Advisory Committees & Groups
- Horticulture Experts & Idea Folks - We would love your input on garden plans, plantings, and general park design. No, we aren’t asking you to do the planting or pruning (unless you want to). We just want your expertise.
- Event Planners - If you are creative and organized and love a great party, we would love your help in putting together events before and after the grand opening.
- Healing through Art - The Children’s Park of Georgia will be a refuge to many who are hurting. Late fall/early winter we will be launching a pilot program for creating some special monuments as part of a small group healing program. No artistic experience is required. These small scale monuments created in this group will be permanently placed in the Children’s Park of Georgia.
- Prayer warriors - will meet twice monthly and commit to praying daily for the leadership of RGCF, progress of the park, and those who will be served through it.
Now Reserving Sidewalk Stones July 27, 2015 09:58
Breaking News - Working with with Northside Hospital - Cherokee for location of the Children's Park of Georgia June 30, 2015 09:45
Breaking News!! We are pleased to officially announce that we are working with Northside Hospital – Cherokee to locate the Children’s Park of Georgia near the hospital’s new campus at Canton Marketplace. We are so pleased to be partnering with this pillar of Cherokee County and metro Atlanta that provides outstanding medical care while demonstrating a consistent commitment to supporting the communities it serves. Did you know that the Northside family of hospitals delivers more babies than any other hospital in the United States!
This change from original location plan is a tremendous improvement for accessibility and convenience to welcome the park’s anticipated visitors from all over the state. With this central location near the new hospital, the Children’s Park of Georgia will be able to reach its full potential and better serve the community including patients, visitors and hospital employees who will benefit from having the refuge of these healing gardens close by.
We are also pleased to announce that we have launched our new website with preliminary park concept plans and an online ordering to make donations for engraved sidewalk stones and other naming opportunities.
We can’t thank you enough for your continued support for this one of a kind park in Georgia that will celebrate the lives of ALL children.
Goal Met! Goal Met! Goal Met! February 13, 2015 11:05
We exceeded 100% of our Phase 1 Goal!!!!!!!
Video Clip from the Children's Park in Tyler, TX January 30, 2015 11:18
Take a moment and check out this video of the many uses of the Children's Park in Tyler, TX. It is such a beloved treasure of their community.
Atlanta-Journal Constitution – 12/27/2014 December 27, 2014 07:00
Local parents raise funds for children’s park – December 5th, 2014 December 05, 2014 15:58
by Michelle Babcock
December 05, 2014 12:22 AM
A group of dedicated local mothers is pushing forward with plans to build a park in remembrance of children who died, and in celebration of those who lived.
With $43,000 raised so far toward the $90,000 it will cost to purchase the property for the park in Canton, organizers are still working hard to ensure the project continues as planned. The park is expected to cost $1 million to complete.
The story of the park began a decade ago, when Canton mom Christy Zeigler gave birth to twins 13 weeks early.
“Born so premature, they still seemed healthy, and we were told it would be a long road but they should do OK,” Zeigler recalled. “Seventeen hours later, it was like an out of body experience to watch ourselves saying goodbye to our newborn baby girl.”
Zeigler’s other twin is alive and well — a happy 10-year-old boy.
“In an act of kindness toward me, the doctors and staff agreed to let Alexis be laid next to her brother in the same incubator. She passed away minutes later. It was like she was holding on to say goodbye to her sweet brother,” Zeigler said. “In the months following, my son had to fight hard to hang on to his life, but thankfully, he survived and is a thriving 10-year-old today.”
Zeigler said ever since, she’s yearned to visit “a place that doesn’t exist,” where she can both remember her lost child and celebrate the one who survived.
“I founded Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation in 2005 because my heart ached for a way to recognize the life of my daughter,” she said. “I also wanted to celebrate the miracle of my surviving son.”
But not just any place would do.
“A cemetery didn’t fit, it was too depressing, and the parks I could find were just empty green spaces without meaning or playgrounds,” she said. “After much research, I came across The Children’s Park in Tyler, Texas. The purpose of the park was to celebrate the lives of all children — those who have passed and those who are living — those with special needs, and those perfectly healthy.”
Zeigler said, “This was the park I was desperately seeking.”
And she was not alone.
A group of about eight local mothers, and many other volunteers, are now on board to make the park a reality.
Sarah Weitzenkorn got involved with the park project a few years ago through Zeigler, she said.
“This park is so very important to me,” she said. “Any mom can tell you that it’s the hardest job you will ever love. You pray for your children, worry about them, cry for them, have so many wishes for them. I have been so incredibly blessed with two healthy children but I also have good friends who have lost their children and many others whose dreams for their children have changed.”
With a target date of mid-2016 for a grand opening, the organization hopes to raise enough money to purchase the land by February, Weitzenkorn said.
“Phase one, which we are in now, is a grassroots fundraising effort to rally the support of the community to pay for the land,” she said. “To date we have raised $43,095 toward our $90,000 goal to purchase this land.”
With a total estimated cost of just more than $1 million, Weitzenkorn said the second phase will include finding community and business partners.
“Phase two is to develop partnerships for major gifts from private, public and corporate sectors. The community support garnered in phase one is crucial to show these partners in phase two that this is a place our community desperately needs and wants,” she said.
The proposed plan is for a 4.5-acre park, with the possibility to expand another 6 acres. The land is located on Highway 20, about 2.5 miles west of Interstate 575.
Zeigler said other peoples’ stories, not just her own, fuel her passion to build the park. Since losing a child herself, Zeigler said she continues to come across people who have dealt with similar heartbreak and “have never found a place that felt ‘right or good enough’ to honor their child’s life.”
“There are a lot of hurting folks out there that put on happy faces but inside they long to find peace, acceptance that they are not alone and recognition that their child’s life, no matter how short, was important,” she said, adding the park would also be a place where siblings could go to come to terms with their emotions of grief, or just “do what kids do best, which is play.”
“It is a place children love to visit to play and feel special, a place great for long walks, great talks and quality family time,” Zeigler said.
Weitzenkorn said so many people have been through tough times, and having a park where they could go would be a great way to show support from the community.
“Countless friends have braved illness, special needs, infertility and loss. I was so drawn to being part of a project that is the one place where all these families can meet, be together, support each other and also celebrate our children,” she said. “Although I didn’t know Christy when Alexis passed away, her passion for this project is palpable. She has a dedication and desire for this park and I was thrilled to be a part of it.”
The park plan features an area where children’s names will be engraved on stones that line the sidewalk, places to play, and spaces specifically designed for struggling parents, Zeigler said.
“It is a place children love to visit to play and feel special, a place great for long walks, great talks and quality family time,” Zeigler said. “This thoughtfully designed park will feature special areas for parents who are struggling and feel alone in their own journeys whether it be grieving a lost child, struggling with the challenges of a raising a special needs child or just coping with the challenges of parenting in general.”
Zeigler said the park will be a place that welcomes families in all walks of life, offering a rejuvenating or comforting space for those in need.
“We all go through times when we could really use a beautiful, safe, quiet place to process, be restored and find peace. It’s important to me that our community have a place like this,” she said.
With opportunities to become “founding mothers and fathers” or “founding grandmothers or grandfathers” of the park for a donation of $100 or more, names of donors will be listed on a plaque in the park once it is built.
Larger donations can also be made in memory of specific children or groups of children. Donors have the chance to give $5,000 to dedicate a bench and engraved stone, or $30,000 to dedicate a bronze child statue, among other options.
Zeigler said she will do her absolute best to get the park completed, but she said it’s in God’s hands.
“My confidence is in the Lord. I am giving it my absolute best effort but in the end, it is in God’s hands to touch people’s hearts and lead them to partner with us. I have no doubt he has been with us all the way and I am confident that he is faithful to finish the good work he begins,” she said.
For more information on the park plans, or to donate to the nonprofit organization heading up the project, visit the website at www.childrensparkofgeorgia.com/.
Read more: Cherokee Tribune – Local parents raise funds for children s park
Foundation seeks help in making children’s park a reality – By Jessica Lindley October 29, 2014 16:03
By Jessica Lindley | Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 12:00 am
Canton park to be modeled after Texas park
Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation Executive Director Christy Zeigler is pictured with, from left, Sandi Anderson, Lisa Hootselle and Jennifer Carson at the Children’s Park of Tyler, Texas. Carson founded this park after the death of her son. Zeigler, through her foundation, hopes to bring a sister park to Cherokee County.
A child is a precious gift, and to celebrate their lives, Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation is eyeing property in Canton for a park specifically designed to recognize children from all over the state.
“The mission, as an organization, is to help children and families by celebrating the lives of all children,” said Christy Zeigler, executive director of Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation. “Our goal is to provide whatever resources and support we can to give parents encouragement and make their lives with the children they love better.”
Zeigler initiated Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation in 2005 for the purpose of creating the Children’s Park of Georgia. The park is modeled after the Children’s Park of Tyler, in Texas, which was created by Jennifer Carson after the death of her son, Braden.
“The dual mission of these sister parks is to celebrate the lives of all children — those with us and those who have gone on, those who are thriving, and those who are medically fragile or struggling with special needs,” Zeigler said. “The life of every child should be celebrated.”
In 2010, Zeigler traveled to Texas with board members Sandi Anderson and Lisa Hootselle to visit the Children’s Park of Tyler, and this trip inspired the foundation to bring a similar park to Cherokee County.
“After visiting this very special park, meeting with its founder, Jennifer Carson, and hearing first-hand stories of how it has blessed the community there, we knew we wanted a place like this for families in Georgia,” Zeigler said.
The foundation currently is under contract to purchase 4.5 acres in Canton, near the corner of Ga. 20 and Butterworth Road. Zeigler said the property was a desired location.
“It is key to have the location in the heart of where families are, and we felt that this was a perfect example of that location,” she added. “This unique park, unlike any other in the state, is expected to draw visitors and recognize children from all over Georgia.”
Zeigler said, unlike typical children’s parks, the Children’s Park of Georgia holds a special meaning.
“We want to make this a park that is for all of Georgia because there is nothing like it in Georgia,” she added. “There are a lot of greenspaces, but there is nothing that has the meaning that we are offering. We have had supporters from as far as Macon who have made gifts to us and wanted to recognize their children.”
The park is expected to include trails, themed gardens and child-friendly monuments.
“The park in Texas does not have a playground; it is a passive park. We have explored both options,” Zeigler said. “It doesn’t really need a playground because this is something different. The kids are welcome to climb on the monuments and really engage; it’s not a ‘keep off’ thing at all. This is more of a family space where the whole family can be engaged.”
The park also is a place for those who have experienced the loss of a child.
“A recent letter I received (from an individual) said they had never found a way to memorialize their child that they had lost; that everything they had tried to come up with felt forced,” Zeigler said. “They had said that the possibility of having a place to reflect on the loss and celebrate the children they went on to have would bring them a sense of peace that they never thought they would find. It is a place people can go and reflect on what they have been through and where they are now.”
In order for the Children’s Park of Georgia to come to fruition, Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation needs to raise $53,000 by the end of January to purchase the land. Zeigler said the nonprofit has raised about $37,000 toward the total purchase price of about $90,000.
A grassroots funding operation, Founding Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers and Grandfathers Campaign, was created to assist in raising the funds.
“Every donation will go toward helping purchase the land,” Zeigler said. “The plan for the grassroots fundraising campaign is to create community awareness. Everyone’s story is part of the park.”
Zeigler said the outpour of support has been “great,” and it is “amazing to see all the pieces come together.”
“This has been a wonderful experience,” she said. “I have held onto my faith and learned that this was a calling for me. We have had ups and downs on different land opportunities, but none of them have been this perfect. I knew this would all come together in God’s timing.”
Any gift of $100 or more will receive recognition by name on a plaque in the future Children’s Park of Georgia and on the park’s website. Donations can be made directly at www.give.childrensparkofgeorgia.com.