Playground dedicated to beloved YMCA official Ken Griffen

The New Britain YMCA hosted a dedication ceremony of its pre-school playground Thursday, in Memory of Ken Griffen, vice president and a strong presence at the Y, who passed away.

“He was an active leader in the Y, Rotary Club, St. Mark’s Church and many other community organizations. There is no doubt that Ken’s devotion to the Y led to new and better facilities and services to children and families of our community,” said Marci Moskal, branch director at the New Britain YMCA. “I know that Ken would be very proud of this playground and we are thrilled to be able to name this area in his memory.”

The separate yet unifying space is split between a mulch area with things like a swing, a stationary car and a tightrope. On the other side is a synthetic grass area where the teachers can offer different activities to interact with the kids.

The YMCA recently opened up a pre-school in their lower level with 40 school readiness slots for ages three to five. For a while it just had a grassy field where the kids would bring play apparatuses out where the teachers would come up with activities with them. As the program progressed, the YMCA wanted to advance the play area, but during this time Mr. Griffen passed unexpectedly.

“Along with flowers and different things like that Mr. Griffen’s friends and family were sending donations here to the Y. So we applied the money that we got on that behalf plus United Way money and we were able to put this playscape together. And now we have an outstanding playscape for our preschool,” said John Benigni, CEO of the Meriden, New Britain and Berlin YMCAs.

The collaborative effort between the board members took six to eight months to get the concept and playground put up and the kids love it. They can be heard laughing, giggling, playing and learning in the offices above the playground.

“It’s a beautiful playground and really such an appropriate remembrance of Ken who was always about family, children and the community,” said Griffen’s wife Donna Griffen.

“He lived here his whole life and loved people and had hope in young children and wanted to give everyone hope and a safe place to be.”

“Ken loved this place. Of everyone I’ve ever met (at the YMCA) he loved this place the most,” said Desiree Rivera, Membership Director at the YMCA.

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