Columbia Parks and Recreation
Creating Community through People, Parks and Programs
In 2002, a “Park and Arboretum” theme was chosen and approved for the master plan for Stephens Lake Park after an extensive public input process. The initial phase of park development focused on the park elements and infrastructure, with the arboretum features to be added later as funding became available. Park staff had a vision for a children’s grove in the northeast area of the park, but the grove remained unfunded for several years.
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012, Columbia citizen Anne Deaton1 was moved to do something to both honor the memory of children lost and to prevent future tragedies. She then consulted with the mayor and other community members who shared her desire to encourage conversations and education about mental health. Also in 2012, a group of concerned citizens led by Christine Cocoran2 joined together in an organization called “Putting Kids First.” This coalition successfully supported a mental health tax to provide much needed behavioral services for youth and set goals to promote mental health awareness and education programs throughout the community.
In 2013, Suzanne McDavid3, as a representative of the interested parties, approached Parks and Recreation staff to express interest in funding a tree planting as a way of bringing lasting attention to children’s mental health needs. Parks and Recreation staff presented the idea of the Children’s Grove at Stephens Lake Park to a small group of interested parties, who heartily embraced the project. A Children’s Grove Committee was formed and co-chaired by Anne Deaton and Suzanne McDavid. The Committee raised funds through private donations and contributed $20,000 to the Parks and Recreation Department to fund the Children’s Grove.
The Children’s Grove was constructed and planted by park staff in 2014. A Heritage Tree was planted in the grove to honor Suzanne McDavid's and Anne Deaton's leadership efforts for the project.
|Members of Children's Grove Dedication and Putting Kids First Education Committee|
1 University of Missouri Adjunct Professor, former Director of Missouri Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, and wife of former University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton
2 Director of Columbia’s Office for Lutheran Children
3 Wife of Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid
Date: May 3, 2014
On a beautiful day on Saturday, May 3, 2014 Columbia citizens gathered together at Stephens Lake Park to enjoy the festivities planned for the dedication of the Children's Grove. The program was organized and hosted by the Children's Grove Dedication and Putting Kids First Education Committees.
|Dedication Photos - May 3, 2014|