As a professor of biological and agricultural engineering, Dr. Marybeth Lima needed a way to give her students a hands-on experience in designing for human wellbeing. So, she picked something almost everyone has experience with: playgrounds. That project quickly grew into the LSU Community Playground Project — a service organization that gives children of all social and economic backgrounds equal access to extraordinary places to play and develop.

In 23 years, Dr. Lima and the LSU Community Playground Project have engaged children, families and educators in designing and building over 40 playgrounds and spaces in and around Baton Rouge. Dr. Lima leads the planning, design and construction and goes far beyond to overcome obstacles — often personally leading fundraising efforts to lessen that burden on schools and neighborhoods.

Safe, engaging play is essential to healthy development and growth. The playground is where we learn many of our first lessons of what it means to be among other humans. Dr. Lima’s mission is overcome the obstacles of inequity and disinvestment to make sure each and every child has access to the facilities and playgrounds that they deserve.