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Playground to spread more sunshine at ballpark

By Pamela Gould, The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 17--Youngsters will soon have slides, tunnels and a sandbox to enjoy at Sunshine Ballpark thanks to the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation and The Fredericksburg Rotary Club.

Work started this week on the space where playground equipment will be added to the Sunshine Ballpark site on Wicklow Drive in Fredericksburg.

The idea is to provide a place where children can play while their siblings are engaged in team activity on one of the baseball diamonds, said William Lynch Jr., president of the Sunshine Ballpark Foundation.

In particular, the playground will enable parents of special needs children to focus on them as they compete on "Ability Field" while the other children are within view in a safe, fenced area, Lynch said.

The playground is part of phase 3 of the park plans, Lynch said. Those plans also include batting cages and a third baseball field.

The playground should be ready by the end of September. No date has been set for when the other parts of phase 3 will begin since funding isn't yet available to cover the cost.

The fenced playground will be handicap accessible and ADA compliant and will include a sandbox, play panels, benches and a picnic table in addition to equipment with climbing areas, tunnels and slides, Lynch said.

The equipment, fencing and ground preparation cost $90,000.

The Sunshine Ballpark Foundation was one of nine recipients this month of a Mary Washington Hospital Community Benefit Fund grant.

Its $50,000 grant was awarded in support of reducing childhood obesity.

The Fredericksburg Rotary Club provided the balance of the cost of the playground, Lynch said.

Mary Washington Hospital Foundation grants awarded this month totaled $255,154. The grants ranged from $9,000 for Northern Neck Head Start to $65,000 for the Guadalupe Free Clinic of Colonial Beach.

Three organizations received Stafford Hospital Community Benefit Fund grants totaling $66,350. Those grants range in value from $17,750 for the Stafford Department of Social Services Health Insurance Enrollment Program to $25,600 for Stafford Junction's Healthy Living Pays program, which encourages cardiovascular health through regular exercise.

Sunshine Ballpark is a nearly $3 million youth sports complex affiliated with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. Its major benefactor was city resident Doris Buffett, who made a $1 million challenge grant that spurred fundraising for the facility that hosted its first games in 2012.

Sunshine Ballpark is used by a variety of baseball leagues including one run by the city's Parks and Recreation Department, the Challenger League and the Badges for Baseball program run by two local sheriff's offices and expanding to a third next year, Lynch said.

The Presbyterian Church of Fredericksburg also runs a four-day camp there for children living at the nearby Heritage Apartments.

The facility also offers an annual oceanography course for children. As of Wednesday, space was still available for the next weeklong session, which starts on Aug. 4, Lynch said.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972; pgould@freelancestar.com

HOSPITAL GRANTS

The Mary Washington Hospital Foundation and the Stafford Hospital Foundation awarded

12 grants this month totaling $321,504. Below is a list of the awards.

Mary Washington Hospital Community Benefit Fund

1. American Heart Association, $20,000 for the CPR Anytime program, which seeks to teach 800 Fredericksburg-area residents how to administer hands-only CPR, how to use an Automated External Defibrillator and the importance of calling 911 in an emergency.

2. The Fredericksburg Area Youth Development Foundation, known as the Sunshine Ballpark Foundation, $50,000 toward a playground that encourages physical activity to promote a healthy lifestyle.

3. Fredericksburg Counseling Services Inc., $26,000 for free mental health clinic counseling provided by licensed mental health professionals, graduate students and licensed eligible mental health professionals to low income, uninsured residents.

4. Fredericksburg Department of Social Services, $32,050 for a community-based eligibility worker to provide outreach at various agencies to facilitate applications to Medicaid, Family Access to Medical Insurance Security and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program programs.

5. George Washington Regional Commission, $25,000 to improve disease prevention through healthy nutrition for low-income families.

6. Guadalupe Free Clinic of Colonial Beach, $65,000 for the clinic, which offers primary and pediatric care, patient education, specialist referrals, and free or discounted medications to residents of Colonial Beach or Westmoreland County who don't have health insurance and earn less than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.

7. Hazel Hill Apartment Corp., $13,104 for the Hazel Hill Healthcare Project, which provides a nurse at federally subsidized Hazel Hill Apartment.

8. Northern Neck Alliance, $9,000 for Northern Neck Head Start.

9. Rappahannock Area Health District, $15,000 for the Every Woman's Life Program, which provides breast and pelvic screening for uninsured, low-income women aged 40 to 64.

Stafford Hospital Community Benefit Fund

1. Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging, $23,000 toward the Care Options Make for Preferred Solutions program, which provides information on health issues and area services.

2. Stafford Department of Social Services, $17,750 for an employee to help clients with the Health Insurance Enrollment Program.

3. Stafford Junction, $25,600 for the Healthy Living Pays program, which promotes regular exercise to improve cardiovascular health.

___

(c)2014 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)

Visit The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.) at www.fredericksburg.com/flshome

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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