Their faith in God and each other brought them through some very tough times. Jennifer’s prayer was that God would give her purpose for Braden’s brief life on earth. Sometime after his passing, Jennifer’s mom discovered Elena’s Children’s Park in Dallas. This park was a neighborhood effort designed to memorialize a child lost because of a tragic car accident. The community rallied and a beautiful, tranquil park materialized celebrating not only Elena’s life, but also the lives of all children.
Jennifer’s family and friends encouraged her to do something similar in Tyler. Her initial resistance was founded in uncertainty and the magnitude of the project. Doors started to open for Jennifer showing the way for this Park to become a reality in Tyler, Texas. Jennifer contacted the people in Dallas who had been instrumental in making that project happen. In January 2001, they volunteered to come to Tyler and work with Jennifer to get this project off the ground.
Meetings with city officials, the Parks and Recreation Board and the City Council resulted in the City voting to become a part of this unique and unprecedented initiative to celebrate and memorialize the lives of children.
As word began to spread about plans for the park, Jennifer’s friends, community leaders, church groups, clubs and other parents began to call and offer support for the project. Over and over again, people were saying they felt the need to have a place where children were celebrated and remembered. The prevailing thought was that this park would be a unique and wonderful way for the City and its citizens to honor and celebrate the lives of children. It provides a place of quiet reflection. It is a place for families and friends who have lost a child to go, besides a cemetery, to reflect, to celebrate, to grieve, to heal. It also provides a unique opportunity for children to use their imaginations in an environment of natural play. It is a special place in our city that says to all our children- you are special and honored!
Tyler is known for its beauty and wonderful sense of community. This park not only enhances the aesthetics of our town – it makes a statement about the passion and unity of our citizens. As the citizens of Tyler have taken ownership of this project, it has become a real point of pride adding to the quality of life in our town. The park reminds us all that children are a focus from which we grow; a focus of newness and joy.
The Children’s Park celebrates the art of natural play. It includes life size bronze statues of children, life-size solid granite bears, a children’s story circle, two waterfalls gently flowing into a fish pond, a beautiful butterfly garden, critters for children to climb on & Alison’s House, a small event center. Cobblestone walkways wind through the park with benches along the way and children’s names engraved along the edges. Phase I was completed and donated to the City of Tyler in September 2004. Phase II was completed in 2015.
The Children’s Park Planning Committee 2001-2004
Rachel Anderson * Jennifer Carson * Jimmy Clark * Marti Krutza * Traci Standifer * Jerry Wilson
The Children’s Park of Tyler Board of Directors 2003-2004
C.C. Baker, Jr. * Karen Barrett * Jeff Buford * Jennifer Carson * Jimmy Clark * Dr. Michael Dent
Lindsey Gainer * Patti Kenney * Marti Krutza * Lisa Lujan * Betty Swann * Cindy Williams
The Children’s Park Board of Directors 2015-2016
Lindsey Gainer * Holli Holleman * Lisa Lujan * Chris Martin * Cristie Martin * Judy Nolley *
Executive Director – Jennifer Carson
Administrative Assistant – April Chesley
Design by – MHS Planning & Design of Tyler, TX
General Contractor – Berry & Clay, Inc. of Rusk, TX
Carlyle Homes of Troup, TX
Granite Bears – Barre Sculpture Studios of Montpelier, VT
Bronze Statues – Tom White Studios of Bethel,
ME & Meyer Gallery in Santa Fe, NM
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-4