Baby TALK to Renovate Park, Community - Wandtv.com, NewsCenter17, StormCenter17, Central Illinois News-

Baby TALK to Renovate Park, Community

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DECATUR-One neighborhood in the city is about to get some major sprucing up.  Baby Talk Early Head Start have already started on a playground and neighborhood renovation project.  Internally, they're calling it the "West Macon Renovation Project."
They are changing the playground, which was outdated and unfit for children under three to a Natural Playscape following an environmental classroom model.  
Heartland Technical Academy students are helping with the construction of a shed and some other aspects of the park, offering labor at no charge.  
Baby Talk Executive Director Claudia Quigg says it's important to bring children back to nature.
"What the studies tell us is that inner city children get very little time outdoors at all, and when they do, it's typically on concrete and asphalt," Quigg says.  "It will give our infants and toddlers experience with grass, tree stumps, and rocks and digging in the dirt and playing in water."
Baby Talk is also anticipating help from the city.  The childcare center is surrounded by condemned houses.  They've been communicating with the city, who have identified those houses as a priority to be demolished. 
"There are certainly homes here that are eyesores.  They need to come down," says Baby Talk Early Head Start Director Shauna Ejeh.  "They are infested with things we really wouldn't want around young children or around anyone."
After the houses are removed, Baby Talk would like to extend the playground to the East, opening it up to the community.  To the North, they'd like to create a community garden with a fruit forest and vegetable garden, that would be open to anyone in the community.  They would also extend their parking lot to the West. 
The total park cost comes to about $50,000.  Baby Talk is still taking donations.  To learn more, you can go to Baby TALK Early Head Start Facebook page to learn more or you can email Courtney@babytalkehs.org  They're also looking for volunteers who would be able to provide gardening or construction help. 
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