Springfield elementary school playground renamed after Hailey Owens
Updated On: May 28 2014 06:24:29 PM CDT
A northside park was renamed in honor of ten-year-old Hailey Owens Wednesday. The child's family says the park will be a place of healing following the kidnapping and murder of their loved one in February.
"When I first walked up and saw 'Hailey's Playground,' I wanted to cry, but then on the other hand there's no reason to cry now," said Linda Minor, Hailey's great grandmother.
Springfield's Westport Elementary School and the nearby Westport Park are two places where Hailey Owens spent much of her time. The ten-year-old's life was was cut tragically short, prosecutors say, by a Springfield teacher's aide.
For Hailey's great grandparents, Rex and Linda Minor, there was comfort in Wednesday's tribute to their grandchild.
"It is so good to see how everybody has poured out their love for the family and for Hailey," Linda Minor said.
An archway painted in Hailey's favorite colors of pink and purple now welcomes children and families to 'Hailey's Playground.'
"I would hope kids would know parks are safe places for them to play--whether it's Westport Park or Hailey's Playground or any park," said Jenny Fillmer Edwards of the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.
A private donation from Bobby Allison, matched by park funds, made the nearly $500,000 of major upgrades possible.
"It is emotional knowing it could be one of our kids. It just kind of makes us all happy to know the community is together supporting her," said Andrea Givens, a mother of two Westport students who attended school with Hailey.
The park is now a place where everyone can cherish Hailey's memory.
"We're celebrating her life, and that's a good thing," Linda Minor said.
Copyright Schurz Communications 2014