WHITEWATER — Three Whitewater mothers are working together to raise funds to replace playground equipment at the city's park.
Whitewater Park Board member Jen Zuercher, along with Cristin Jones and Jenny Gaudern, said the playground equipment is not only old, it is unsafe.
"Every few months we hear of an incident of a child getting hurt," Zuercher said.
"You tell your kids 'no' all day every day," Gaudern said. "The last thing you want to do is take them to the park and tell them, 'no, you can't go down the big slide.'"
Children currently play on decades-old equipment without anything softer than grass and hard-packed dirt to cushion their landings.
"There's no sand or soft turf below," Zuercher said.
The equipment on the playground — including a large metal slide, jungle gym and swing set — were given to the park when Whitewater Elementary was converted into Remington Middle School.
"The current jungle gym that was donated from Remington Middle School is the same jungle gym that I played on as a kid 25 years ago," Zuercher said.
"I came down here and started looking and realized how old everything was and how long it had been (here)," Jones said. "I thought, 'this needs to be replaced. It's not up to code, it's not safe.'"
"It's very nostalgic to our area and a lot of people don't want to get rid of the old stuff, but we really want something that the little ones can play on," Gaudern said. "There's really nothing for the little ones and even the stuff that the big kids can play on is falling apart."
Several pieces of wooden playground equipment were removed several years ago.
"Until we get some new, different equipment it's hard to take away what's here," Gaudern said.
"I did have the high schools repaint everything last year so it looks a little better...but it's just paint," Jones said.
Jones had previously tried to launch a campaign to replace the park's equipment by herself without much success.
"She was all alone, and then I tried to do some stuff all by myself, but none of us could get anywhere," Gaudern said.
"We not only wanted it for our own kids, because we all have kids, but we wanted it for everybody's kids," Jones said. "It needs to happen."
Their concern over the possibility of injuries motivated them to band together last year.
"Now that we're together, we're really seeing some progress," Gaudern said.
"Don't underestimate three mothers," Jones added with a smile.
The city's park, located at east Central and Willow streets, is a hub of activity for the Whitewater community.
"There's a little bit of equipment over by the library, but this is the main town park and so it really needs to happen," Jones said. "I know that if we made it happen, it would just be huge in our town. There's no pool or anything. This is it."
They estimate it will take $50,000 to redo the park.
"We have raised some money and we're also applying for grants," Zuercher said.
Around $4,000 has been raised through various activities.
"We've done that through bake sales, garage sales, a car show and we've sold some T-shirts," Jones said. "We're going to promote it again this next year and see how much we come up with."
Zuercher recently set up a Gofundme page to accept donations online.
"We're just trying to get the word out that we're still looking for donations and people to partner with us for the kids. We have a wonderful community and everyone really rallies together," Zuercher said.
The mothers want to see equipment installed for toddlers as well as older children.
"Whitewater is a growing community full of young families and it's really missing a nice park to play in," Zuercher said. "...We're going to do our best to fundraise and make this happen."
"Our goal is to get new park equipment in for the next spring," Zuercher said. "We'd also like benches for the parents to sit on and some nice landscaping."
A new shelter area for people to gather for parties and other events is also on their wishlist.
"This community is my home, and all of us want the best for our kids," Zuercher said. "They haven't had anything brand new in a long time."
For more information on the Whitewater Park Project, visit https://www.gofundme.com/whitewaterparkproject.