Jump from cutting and folding an origami animal to planting vegetables to harvesting your crops; jump from hopscotch play to a quiet Japanese Zen box where you can draw your feelings in the sand
Jumpland was a result of Rebecca's own vision of healing and dedication. The tragic death of Noel Mann, an Albuquerque 6-year-old who was stabbed to death by his father with a screwdriver in 1996, led to the construction of the children's garden.
"When Noel was killed I was outraged," Rebecca said, whose son Eric attended the same school as Noel. "I felt the stab in my heart and heard the same words that are now fundamental truth for me: if we created this, we can un-create it. I wanted to do something constructive. I had a lot of the pieces of the puzzle and Noel became the structure to place the pieces on."
Jumpland is named from a short story Noel wrote when he was 5 years old about a land where children were safe to play and explore. From this came Rebecca's idea of an experimental learning environment that kids plan, build and maintain. Rebecca approached the Jewish Federation of Greater Albuquerque with her idea and was given the position as co-chairperson of the Jewish Community Relations Council. From this position, she spearheaded the construction of the garden. Over 200 volunteers put in more than 1200 hours as the dream became a reality.
The park features a maze constructed of straw bales, corn and sunflower plants, a flower and vegetable garden, butterfly hatcheries and play area. The building blocks were mostly from recycled materials natural to the environment. "The containers we used to plant the flowers are what the trees came in, the watering cans old milk jugs", Rebecca noted.
Jumpland also boasts a 500-lb bronze frog called 'Mouth", donated by a local sculptor.
With outstanding community support, Jumpland was built on a 1/3 acre space at The Rio Grande Zoo in only one month. "There were so many donations, it only cost $3500.00. If I can do this, anyone can. We owe it to our children. We tell them this is a beautiful world, let's show them as well. Since we're always creating with our thoughts, let's have some fun and create wonderful, fun gardens with our children and our communities. And let's not wait for a tragedy. Just do it for love."
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