TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Whether it's the critters that children love to play on, the names engraved on the sidewalk, or the quiet refuge where families can share memories of lost loved ones, the Children's Park of Tyler is a healing journey for those who visit here.
Seventeen years ago, the park, located on Tyler's South Broadway Street, could be described as a huge, vine covered drainage ditch, that no one really knew what to do with.
It took the most tragic event of Jennifer Carson's life to turn the wasted site into the miracle it is today.
"We had a child that was born still in 1999 and as you can imagine, there's a lot of grief in that and what I've learned over the years is that grief produces a lot of energy," says Jennifer.
Although Jennifer didn't know it at the time, she was to turn that energy into a blessing for those who agonize over the loss of a child.
"I remember driving by one day and I just heard God say, this is where you're going to build a park and I thought, I can't build a park, I don't know hot to build a park," says Jennifer.
Even though Jennifer felt inadequate for the mission, God's words continued to haunt her.
'So, I said, 'Lord, hey if you want me to build a park, you're going to have t provide everything: the people, the money, whatever it takes and from that point he did. He brought the people together, he brought the money. It was amazing," says Jennifer.
The Children's Park of Tyler officially opened Sept. 19, 2004.
"We developed the house and the yard and then what the city already owned," says Jennifer.
The most recent jewel added to the park's crown is 'Alyson's House. Named for the deceased daughter of C.C. and Brenda Baker, who had been instrumental in raising funds for the park, Alyson's House offers a venue for weddings and other large events, while providing a source of revenue for the park.
"It's all about celebrating children," says Jennifer.
If the Carson's son Braden had lived, he would be seventeenth now, but Jennifer says she's pleased that the Children's Park of Tyler, not only celebrates lost children like Braden, but celebrates the lives of all children.