A place of hope for town destroyed by a tornado

A state-of-the-art playground is helping a community recover from a devastating tornado and bringing children of different abilities together, helped by Surface Chemistry volunteers in the United States.

When a tornado hit Coal City in Illinois in 2015, it left destruction in its wake. Homes and businesses were demolished to such an extent that the community is still rebuilding itself – in spirit as well as materially.

The Coal City Lyons Park was destroyed, leaving a lack of facilities for children. Operational Excellence Coordinator Tina Weir, who works at Surface Chemistry in nearby Morris, heard that a new playground was planned by Hope Helps, a non-profit organization dedicated to the autistic community.

She explained: “I felt this also tied in perfectly with our Human Cities initiative – it’s rebuilding, it provides hope for this devastated town, it gives color, and it promotes the need for awareness of those with other abilities, encouraging children to be more accepting of those different to themselves.”

Twenty employees gave up a weekend to build the park, which included a sensory garden. As a platinum sponsor of the project, AkzoNobel is recognized for its contribution on the entrance sign.

“It was a great project. We learned to adapt to changes, such as the weather conditions, and I felt volunteers gained a better understanding of the need in the area for inclusion of different abilities, ethnicities, ages and social standings,” said Tina.

It is hoped that the park, which is open to all children irrespective of disabilities, race or religion, will stand as an example to the surrounding areas and raise awareness of the need for additional facilities which can be accessed by those with special needs.