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Staff, volunteers pitch in to build Highlands Community Services playground

Dozens are coming together to build a playground for Highlands Community Services expected to be completed this week. (K. Roberts, WCYB)

There are more than 2,000 Bristol and Washington County, Virginia children served by Highlands Community Services for a variety of behavioral health needs. The group's children's campus in Abingdon has now been in operation a little over a year. They are now adding resources to the benefit the children.

The campus is about to have a new bright and colorful playground. Right now, it is in pieces. Over the next few days, it is going to take dozens of volunteers to get it up and operational.

it's bright and colorful, but right now - this playground is in pieces.

"It's like a huge jigsaw puzzle, so we'll see how it goes," Justin Roop, a systems analyst at the organization said.

While by nature, this equipment is designed for crawling and climbing, Highlands Community Services children's workers also see it as therapy for kids.

"It's the fun factor, but we also know in the services that we provide this is very therapeutic for kids. kids that have anger issues, kids who are struggling. Get them outside, get them in the sun. Get them socializing together. That's a big piece of what we do," Shawn Miller said. Miller oversees children's services, which had more than 2,000 referred last year.

Miller said, "We have a plethora of children's services from case management to mentoring. We also have an alternative school, which is housed here in the new building. We do crisis intervention and crisis services for children as well."

So that is why everyone is here pitching in, including Justin Roop, who normally works on computers in the IT department.

"Seeing them out there with smiles on their faces, helping them along the way, it's heartwarming. It really is to know what we're doing is helping them out," Roop said.

It is a project for the facilities crew that has a little momentum behind it. "I'm excited to get it up and going," Phillip Roe said.

So if therapy looks like it is fun, that is because it is just one of the many emotions these children will experience as they learn to heal.

Miller said, "It's an integral piece of what we want to do with them to help them on their road to recovery."

If the weather cooperates, the staff hopes to have the playground completed by the end of the week. The playground will be all-inclusive and ADA accessible.

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