Within walking distance of Crown Center, Children’s Mercy Hospital, the Juvenile Court building, Ronald McDonald House and a host of children’s and family services, Sheila Kemper Dietrich Park is an oasis in a sea of turmoil. Few people choose to spend their time at the nearby children’s hospital or any of the children’s agencies. But the Park is another matter all together.
Located at 26th and Gillham Road, the park is a happy place. The sight of children and their parents sharing the everyday experience of a swing is a reminder that wounds and illness can heal, troubled children can find joy and estranged families can be reunited.
As therapeutic as a park can be, this park was in need of a sprucing up. And it got it. For the last month or more there was a construction fence around the park. I was concerned at first that it might be demolished. But I didn’t need to worry. Construction crews rejuvenated the park so that it is even better than before. Urban renewal at it’s best!!
Imagine the fantasy land of a park where a child can experience the thrill and sense of adventure associated with climbing on an old ship (well, not really so old, and certainly not seaworthy) or fending off an artificial sea serpent. They can maneuver a rope (well sort of) to climb up to the ship. They can play to their heart’s content while imagining themselves as great adventurers.
Children can wander around cartoon figures that, for young children, are every bit as exciting as the statues at Disneyland, and they are free to all who enter the park.
The park includes children’s slides, swings, jungle gym type climbing equipment. There are tennis courts on the adjacent property. Sheila Dietrich Kemper Park is a place where the environment encourages happy thoughts and a spirit of adventure.
For a few minutes at least, the park can remind children and families with loved one’s who are sick or troubled that there can be happy days and happier tomorrows. And for the neighborhood itself, it is simply a wonderful block where families can experience the simple joys of time together. For all, the park builds the spirits and inspires us all.