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.