Clubs help communities access playgrounds and medical care with Kiwanis Children’s Fund grants.
By Erin Chandler
Some of the most popular and directly effective community projects sponsored by Kiwanis clubs are playgrounds and health-related screenings. In August 2023, the Kiwanis Children’s Fund awarded seven club grants for projects that enable kids of all backgrounds and abilities to access medical care and places to play.
A century-old signature project gets a boost
The Kiwanis Club of Denton, Texas, U.S., has provided free medical, dental, vision and mental health care to children in need since 1925. For the outstanding work it does in its community, the Denton Kiwanis Children’s Clinic was recognized with the Group II Silver award in the 2023 Kiwanis Signature Project Contest. A club grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help club members continue to advertise their clinic’s services and promote healthy dental practices. To date, Denton Kiwanians have given out 7,500 Kiwanis-branded bags containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental hygiene coloring books and clinic flyers at back-to-school events. This year, they will distribute thousands more dental hygiene kits that they hope will lead to even more kids being helped by the clinic.
A fair for fun and health
For the Kiwanis Club of Lincoln Foothills, the annual health fair in Lincoln, California, U.S., is a true community event. A Kiwanis Children’s Fund club grant joins grants and donations from other service clubs and medical, dental and vision organizations to fund a free health fair for seven elementary schools and two middle schools. Kids who attend the fair receive health, vision and dental screenings; food bags, healthy snacks and lunch; haircuts; bicycle safety information and helmets; and books — plus educational games and entertainment, all at no cost to families. Eyeglasses and follow-up dental procedures, if needed, are paid for by the local Lions Club and Rotary Club, respectively.
Expanding bike safety
The Kiwanis Club of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, U.S., has held its Bike Rodeo Safety Fairs for 15 years. A grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help them expand their fairs into a fourth area community and a local middle school, as well as provide professional bike safety checks and repairs. Kids who participate in a Bike Rodeo Safety Fair receive basic bicycle safety instruction from local police officers, pedal through a course with guidance from Kiwanians and receive free bike helmets, bells and lights. Kids of all backgrounds and experience levels are welcome and are even entered in a bike-giveaway drawing.
Clubs team up for two accessible playgrounds
Twenty percent of children in the Albert Lea school district in Minnesota, U.S., receive special education services — yet none of the city’s 41 parks and recreation areas have facilities accessible to children with physical or developmental disabilities, autism or sensory disorders. The Kiwanis Club of Albert Lea is teaming up with the other area clubs — the Kiwanis Club of Albert Lea Golden K and the Kiwanis Club of Day Breakers, Albert Lea — to help remedy that situation. The All-Together Albert Lea Inclusive Playground will be wheelchair accessible and provide fun activities that children of all abilities can enjoy together. A Kiwanis Children’s Fund club grant will go toward the purchase of equipment for the “Kiwanis Play Zone” area, including a Loft + Market Café for toddlers, a sensory panel, musical features and an Oodle Swing. The club plans to organize activities such as games and book giveaways at the playground at least once a year.
In Wisconsin, U.S., the Kiwanis Club of Ripon Early Bird is teaming up with the Kiwanis Club of Ripon Noon to build a new playground that will be accessible to kids and families of all abilities. A grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help to pay for the ADA-compliant poured surface and eight accessible features, including multiple swings that will accommodate wheelchair users. Overall, the playground will feature over 40 pieces of equipment and be located next to the existing Kiwanis Splash Pad. Kiwanians from both clubs will maintain the park on service cleanup days, and they will work together to hold an annual children’s fair there.
Two more playgrounds get an upgrade
A Kiwanis Children’s Fund club grant will help the Kiwanis Club of Lebanon, Indiana, U.S., replace the 30-year-old playground equipment at Abner Longley Park with safer, more modern structures. The club will also install a Little Free Library at the playground, and club members will work with the Lebanon High School Key Club to place protective mulch in the play area. The idea for the playground revitalization came from a “wish list” compiled by local organizations that serve young people. Club members hope this addition to a low-income area will have a long-lasting, positive impact on thousands of kids.
To mark its 100th anniversary, the Kiwanis Club of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, U.S., is also upgrading a beloved community playground. Kids have been playing at the Bastian/Kiwanis Playground since the 1950s. The club will enhance parking, remove or relocate outdated structures and install new equipment to bring the playground up to code. The majority of a Kiwanis Children’s Fund grant will go toward the construction of a new accessible entrance that will allow more kids and families to enjoy all the playground has to offer.
How you can help
The Kiwanis Children’s Fund makes grants that improve the lives of children around the world by identifying projects that create a continuum of impact in a child’s life — ones that span their entire childhood and set them up for a bright future. By funding projects that target the Kiwanis causes — health and nutrition, education and literacy, and youth leadership development — whether through a Kiwanis club’s local service project or a club’s partner, the Children’s Fund ensures that its grantmaking has the greatest possible impact.