ASHLAND, Ohio — A group of 7th-graders in Ashland are behind a project to create better recycling and to build playgrounds at a soccer field— and they're doing it in honor of a local coach who lost his battle with cancer.
Driving all the planning behind creating new playgrounds and installing new recycling bins at Ringler Field in Ashland is the memory of Ashland University Women's Soccer Coach Danny Krispinsky.
"Danny's passion was soccer," said Danny's father, Steven. "He loved soccer."
So when Danny was done playing in high school and at Ashland University, he started coaching in youth camps, at the high school and later back at the University.
He was an active part of the community until he lost his battle with cancer in early 2019.
Danny's legacy is being remembered in the upgrades of 7th graders at Ashland Middle School who are planning for Ringler Field, where Danny played soccer when he was younger.
"I think your idea, your concept is so well taken," said Steven, after students laid out their plan to him, his wife, and their daughter-in-law.
Part of the project includes installing clearly labeled recycling bins after the kids found out that 30% of what was being put into the barrels there now was trash, costing the recycling center time and money to manually sort it out.
"Their bins are not labeled at all," said one student. "You wouldn't even be able to tell if they were recycling."
This aspect helps the local government with a city-wide effort to improve recycling habits.
"The receptacles weren't clearly marked throughout Ringler field and so folks, even if they had the desire to recycle, didn't know what to do with their empty water bottles," said Ashland Mayor Matt Miller.
The rest of the project involves installing playground equipment, giving younger kids something to do while their siblings are on the field.
The students need about $70,000 to make the designs a reality and after just four months of fundraising, they're nearly halfway there already.
"This has been kind of amazing to watch," said teacher Jarrod Vance.
Vance and his fellow teacher, Sarah LeVeck, are guiding the project, but they're clear that the students are in the driver's seat.
"You guys are making the decisions, we'll help on the things that we need to help with, but you guys are the ones doing the work here," said Vance.
One of the biggest decisions was dedicating the project to Danny Krispinsky.
"He would say, 'You need to understand the strategy of the game and that's what I want to teach these kids," said Steven.
The 7th -graders in Ashland might not be learning about soccer, but they are making budgets, conducting a fundraising campaign, and writing grant applications, showing what's possible when a team comes together.
"It feels like we've achieved a lot," said student Jameson Russell. "And, well, we have, really."
You can find more information about the project here .