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Select Health of SC and AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership Bringing New Playground to Chicora Community
7/23/2013 2:10:42 PM


NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - Select Health of South Carolina and AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership (ACP) has announced plans to build a playground adjacent to the Chicora Place Community Garden, located at 3107 North Carolina Avenue in North Charleston. The playground, part of ACP's "Safe Playground" program, will be built in a single day Friday, Nov. 22. ACP has built 20 playgrounds since 2007, benefiting more than 6,000 children. Select Health offers the First Choice Medicaid health plan and is part of AmeriHealth Caritas Family of Companies. AmeriHealth Caritas is a majority-owned subsidiary of Independence Blue Cross; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan holds a minority interest.

"A playground is an investment in the health of a community and the families who live there," said Cindy Helling, executive director of Select Health, which is headquartered in North Charleston. "The Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood needs a safe playground, and this location is ideal in many ways. We hope more businesses and individuals will join us in making this vision a reality for the community." Project partners to date include the City of North Charleston, Metanoia Community Development Corporation and Charleston Promise Neighborhood.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, preventable injuries are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14 in the United States. In fact, more than 14 million children sustain preventable injuries that require medical attention each year. These injuries are one of the leading causes of emergency room visits for children insured by AmeriHealth Caritas and the impetus behind ACP's Safe Playground program.

"Safe playgrounds encourage physical fitness, help prevent childhood obesity, reduce youth violence and school absenteeism and boost academic performance. They also connect families and promote social and emotional development in children," said Maria Pajil Battle, president of ACP. "In today's world, it's important for children to get outside and play in a place that's worry-free. This playground really does have the power to change a child's world, which is our mission."

Founded in 2011 by AmeriHealth Caritas as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, ACP works to address health disparities through community health initiatives that promote health, wellness and overall quality of life. ACP, in collaboration with AmeriHealth Caritas health plans, identifies communities where high percentages of children are living at or below the poverty level and are lacking safe play areas. Then, in conjunction with community partners and sponsors, they build a playground in one day.

This will be the second playground build in S.C. In 2012, ACP and Select Health led a successful effort to build a playground, fitness area and refurbished recreational facilities including a basketball court at Pinehurst Park in Columbia.

The City of North Charleston had already pinpointed the empty space by the Chicora Place Community Garden as a potential playground spot, said Parks and Recreation Director Ed Barfield. According to the proposal, the city will provide the land as well as a decorative black fence and a small number of parking spaces. The city would also maintain the grounds and playground equipment. "It's a wonderful opportunity, especially for the south end of our city," said Barfield. "It's going to be great for the children and adults."

The city also provides the land for the Chicora Place Community Garden, which started in 2011. With ongoing support from the Metanoia Community Development Corporation, the garden is tended by volunteers who grow fresh fruits and vegetables, making healthy eating easier for residents.

Once the playground is completed, adults will be able to work in the garden while keeping an eye on children at the playground, making it easier for everyone to stay active. "A playground is something that people from the neighborhood have said they have wanted to see for a long time, and placing it next to the garden is a perfect fit," said the Rev. Bill Stanfield, CEO of Metanoia.

The playground's main structure will be designed for children ages five to 12. Features will include slides, monkey bars, a climbing wall and more. Alongside the main structure will be a series of outdoor fitness stations geared to young adults and older people, even senior citizens, including a rowing station, sit-up plank and elliptical trainer. The playground will be handicapped-accessible with the approval of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Society of Testing Materials.

Charleston Promise Neighborhood CEO Sherrie C. Snipes-Williams credits Select Health and ACP for the resources they are contributing and for making the Chicora Place playground build a collaborative effort. "The end result will be a positive place for our children to play and laugh and grow."

Select Health and ACP are reaching out to area businesses, organizations and individuals, asking them to get involved and lend financial support to the project. Those interested in contributing through donations or sponsorships should contact Tricia Crimminger, Select Health director of communications, at (843) 569-4643 or

For more information about Select Health, visit For more information about AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership, visit

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