Build Jake's Place

In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us that we should have a welcoming attitude towards children because “the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Mt. 19:14). And, the life of Jesus, as recounted in the Gospel stories, also teaches us that good can come out of evil.

These fundamental tenets of Christianity are so engrained in us that our appreciation of them sometimes wanes. Anyone who feels this way and is in need of a “refresher” would do well to visit the website of Build Jake’s Place, www.buildjakesplace.org .

The tragedy of Baby Jake’s short life has given rise to greatly expanded possibilities for countless other youngsters who find the same joy in play that he did.

Build Jake’s Place is inspired by the brief but joyous life of Jake Cummings Nasto, a small child in New Jersey who died in 2007. Born with a severe heart defect, Jake struggled as he played at traditional playgrounds. As challenging as these playgrounds were for him with his limited ability, Jake experienced great joy in being around other kids. After two paralyzing strokes and an open-heart procedure he died.

Moved by his love of life and courage, and grateful for the joy playgrounds brought to him, his parents began raising funds to build a network of playgrounds in his memory, in memory of “Baby Jake.” Jake’s parents have founded Build Jake’s Place in order to provide an opportunity for children of all abilities to have fun, grow, learn, and interact with one another, including children who are fully able and those with disabilities.

They are doing this in collaboration with an organization called Boundless Playgrounds (www.boundlessplaygrounds.org), an organization which now has over 180 “boundless playgrounds “in over 30 states.

The tragedy of Baby Jake’s short life has given rise to greatly expanded possibilities for countless other youngsters who find the same joy in play that he did.

Build Jake’s Place first playground will be at Challenge Grove Park in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. One out of every ten children in the country cannot play on a playground – even an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) approved playground – because of physical limitations. There are 4,000 such kids within driving distance of this first playground Build Jake’s Place is creating!

More and more today we read about the concern that kids don’t have the opportunity to play together or don’t know how to play together. Video games and television keep them indoors and isolated. To the extent they are “in touch” with one another it is through the Internet. Maybe things aren’t as bad as some believe. There is an irrepressible urge in children to run, jump, wrestle and swing together. It is sad when circumstances, physical or cultural, prevent this.

Some say that the job of every child is to play. If so, it is a formidable responsibility. Engaged in honest and spontaneous play together, kids can teach – or at least remind – us adults that, for us also, our primary job is to find joy in life. It’s in being joyful that we glorify our Creator.

Build Jake’s Place shows us that even in the face of tragedy the advance of the Kingdom is joyous.

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2 Comments

  1. Wow, thank you so much for featuring our family charity. As Jake’s “pop-pop” I do so appreciate your mention. Not only is the mention nice but you captured the essence of what we are doing. Raising the money necessary in this economy is tough but we, with God’s help and the help of so many good people, will prevail. BTW, we are a national finalist in the Pepsi contest. If we win we get $70,000 towards the firts playground. Visit http://www.boundlessplay.refresheverything.com/approved-ideas/detail/id/70 and vote! Couldn’t resist the commercial!

    Jim Cummings

  2. Hello, Jim:
    Thanks for your reply. I’ll be sure to vote. Please remember me to Lynn.

    Dana Robinson

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