Nickelodeon responds to children's requests, leads effort to clean up Middle Branch Park

April 07, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

When Nickelodeon surveyed its viewers last year, one in four children in Maryland told the network they wanted help renovating local parks.

In response to the overwhelming number of calls it received, Nickelodeon will videotape and pay for cleanup efforts at Middle Branch Park, 3301 Waterview Ave. in southern Baltimore, on Saturday.

Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks is expecting thousands of children at the event from 10: 30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Activities will include building a playground, planting trees along Gwynns Falls Trail, cleaning up the waterfront, creating two butterfly gardens and participating in a fish release along the Patapsco River.

Nickelodeon is sponsoring 10 park cleanups across the country this year as part of its annual Big Help tour. Big Help is an effort to help children take pride in their neighborhoods -- the network spends almost $30 million on the event.

"Nickelodeon launched Big Help in response to kids saying they wanted to make a difference," said Marva Smalls, spokeswoman for the children's cable TV network.

Footage from around the country will be broadcast from 7 p.m. to 7: 30 p.m. April 19-25 during the network's "Big Help Week." The Big Helpmobile -- a 34-foot-long trailer that contains computer kiosks where children can research how to make their neighborhoods better -- sets up at each stop.

When Maryland was selected as a Big Help site, the network contacted Michael Baker, chief of Baltimore's parks department, to select a cleanup site and decide what the Big Help effort would do at the designated park.

Middle Branch Park, near Cherry Hill, is a site that needs refurbishment, according to the parks department. Fran Spero, the department's administrative analyst, said many of the trees in the park are dead. The park also lacks a playground and has litter.

Nickelodeon will pay for almost all cleanup efforts and the city will supply trash bags, trees and some of the plants needed for the butterfly gardens. The parks department has one butterfly garden, at Cylburn Arboretum in North Baltimore, among its 400 properties.

Because parking at Middle Branch Park is prohibited Saturdays, shuttle service will be provided to the Big Help event. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., free transportation will be offered to and from Reedbird Park, 201 Reedbird Ave.

The Big Help will not be the only city park cleanup Saturday. The park department's 15th annual Shape Up Parks event also will be held.

More than 400 people are expected to pick up trash, plant trees and paint playground equipment at 25 sites in Baltimore. The parks department will supply trash bags, gloves and paint, and the city will haul the filled bags. Information: Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, 410-396-7458.

Pub Date: 4/07/99

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