omar villeta_web.jpgOmar Villeta, a junior at the Design & Architecture Senior High School (DASH) in Miami, created the winning design for a playground for KIDCO’s renovation project at 5510 NE Second Ave., Miami.

The Miami-Dade Community Action Agency’s Head Start Program, KIDCO, Sol-Arch Architectural Services and Eric Hankin’s DASH class formed an alliance to highlight the talent and imagination of the students to come up with ideas for the playground through a contest.

Luis Hernandez, an Early Childhood specialist, spoke to the students about early childhood development and how their designs should reflect the needs and safety of the children. Gordon Loader, an architect specializing in playground construction also spoke to them.

In order for the students to prepare for the competition, they took part in an exercise in which they sat on pieces of cardboard so their sight levels would be those of 3- to 5-year-olds. Then using a stop watch set at eight minute intervals, Loader asked them to reflect and record their emotional perception at that point.
The students also visited a KIDCO center and met the students and teachers. The KIDCO students were asked to draw pictures of how they wanted their play space area to look.

“Omar’s design was chosen because it had the fundamental things a playground should have but yet it was not your typical playground. It was more like a paradise,” said Ivette Riano, one of the judges, representing KIDCO,Omar was awarded $150 for the best design, Laura Stargala got $100 for the best presentation and Donnie Garcia-Navarro got $100 for the most buildable design. Flavia Machiavello, Stephanie Restrepo and Sydney Rubin were given honorable mention recognition and each received $50.