Two years ago, when Gyasi Miller ’24 was in fifth grade, it was no surprise his love of basketball inspired his Think, Care, Act project. After witnessing the condition of his local city playground, Parkside Evans, he decided to clean up the area for his project.
After a simple clean-up with friends and family wasn’t enough, Gyasi, motivated by his passion, researched the playground’s needs, developed a budget, and presented his proposal to Philadelphia 4th District Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. to try and secure funds for a playground face lift.
Jones awarded $50,000 toward the project. On October 23, 2018, a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of the nearly two-yearlong redevelopment project, truly change in the making.
We sat down with Gyasi to get his perspective on this accomplishment for his community:
Why did you choose Parkside Evans Playground as your project for the Think, Care, Act Fair?
Since I was about three years old I’ve really enjoyed basketball. When I was playing in the summer, I noticed the conditions of the courts in my neighborhood compared to others. I realized they were not in great condition. I really wanted to help bring better court conditions to my neighborhood for other kids to enjoy. If you love something, find a way to help someone or a group of people participate in that passion.
What was the process like working with Philadelphia 4th District Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. to receive funding?
Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. was very helpful. The first step in the process to receive funding was a meeting with the Councilman to explain why I chose this park and how I would use the money to clean-up the park if the Councilman was to award me funding. I took the councilman and his team around the court to show them what I wanted to use the money for, such as what equipment I wanted to order and where it should be placed. After these initial meetings, the Councilman worked to secure the funding for me so that we could begin work on the court.
With this funding what have they been able to do at the park?
With the funding secured by the Councilman, we were able to repave the basketball court. The money also helped us to replace the backboards, nets, and rims. We were able to put bleachers on the side of the courts. We also added padding around the pole of the basketball net, for kids who may go up for a layup and hit the pole when coming down.
How did it feel to have the project finished and the park be ready for use?
It feels good. It was cool to see my school project make such impactful change in my neighborhood. I didn’t expect it for it to be done as fast as it was – so that was exciting too! Being able to see the colors and designs I chose come to life was really cool. My family and friends are really proud of me, which is exciting because I am really proud of what we were able to do at the park.
Do you see yourself working in local government or in your community in the future? As a career or as a personal hobby?
I definitely thought about it after this experience, but I really want to follow my dream to be an engineer when I grow up.
During the 2018-2019 school year, Shipley is celebrating 125 Years of Changemakers. Throughout the year, we're featuring past, present, and future Shipley changemakers. To read more profiles, visit our website.