The Norman Transcript

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September 8, 2013

Building up Briarwood

(Continued)

NORMAN —

“It was a plain field this morning. It was just flatlands. And now look at this,” she said pointing at the purple and teal playground bustling with volunteers.

“Kids need a place to play. With the disaster it took away this opportunity,” Webb said.

Parents said children being able to be part of the construction process helps empower them and aids the healing process.

“My son got to paint a pave stone that will be here forever,” said Nicole Harris, the Briarwood Parent Teacher Association president.

“My daughter has been shuffling mulch all morning,” said Kelly Hickman, the PTA president.

Parents said the opportunity to stay together as Briarwood instead of being split up into different schools as it was done after the May 1999 tornadoes has been huge for the children.

“We are so grateful that we are here and together as a school,” Harris said. “They started school together and the focus wasn’t ‘Urgh, you’re a tornado kid’ (at another school). But they are here together. They rebuild together. That helps them heal. Here they have familiar faces, familiar teachers. Things are almost normal.”

The youngest volunteers were very proud of their handy work.

“The way I look at this playground is that I want to play on this,” said a sweat-drenched Zachary Harris, now a third-grader at Briarwood. He added that it was great to be asked what they wanted on their playground. KaBOOM and Nike had asked the kids to be part of the visioning process and plans were drawn up based on their ideas and wishes.

Second-grader Hezekiah Darbon said they had been playing football and basketball during recess since school started and that was OK, but a playground will be even better.

He said he liked working like an adult.

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