Playground upgrade in child’s memory

Clinton parents Ella and Matthew King are organising one final fundraiser to upgrade the Clinton...
Clinton parents Ella and Matthew King are organising one final fundraiser to upgrade the Clinton Triangle playground further in memory of their son Zeke, who died of sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC). He would have turned 10 this year. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN
Ten years old — that is how old Zeke King, of Clinton, would be turning next month if he were still alive.

Zeke and his mother Ella had a picnic lunch with a friend in May, 2015, at the Clinton Triangle playground, where she and her friend commented on the lack of equipment for toddlers.

That same night, Zeke went to sleep and did not wake up — 14 months after being brought into the world.

He died of sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC), a category of death in children between 1 and 18 years old that remains unexplained.

Parents Ella and Matthew King, who are still living in the Clinton area, have created a positive spin in their community by fundraising to upgrade, buy and donate equipment for the local playground in memory of Zeke.

The family, local groups and the surrounding community have since raised thousands of dollars throughout the years to buy various equipment for the playground, with a plaque to accompany it.

This included a playground for toddlers, and a playground aimed at 5-year-olds — erecting the equipment at the times Zeke would have reached that age.

Mrs King said the family wanted to create a "reliable and exciting" play area for every young child to experience the way she wished her son could.

This year, the family was hosting their "last hurrah" of fundraising for the Clinton playground for a tribute to what would be Zeke’s 10th birthday.

"We want to go big," Mrs King said.

"I personally wish we could raise enough money for a hamster wheel, but realistically we’d love to take a list of options priced with the total amount we raise to our local [Clinton and Waiwera South Primary] schools and let them pick out what they want to play on."

Zeke’s case is part of global cardiac research to this day to understand what causes SUDC, and Mrs King said she would "always miss her wee boy".

"We’re always thinking of what kind of person Zeke would be today," she said.

"His mannerisms, his personality, his school life and more are aspects of his life we will never experience.

"We want to share Zeke’s story, which is no longer a sob story.

"We want his memory to live on forever."

Mrs King hoped to buy the piece of equipment during his birthday month in March, and would aim to host a working bee at the playground in the month of Zeke’s passing in May, which would include a complete tidy-up of the park and the installation of the new play equipment.

"It’s Zeke’s playground for everyone," she said.

"His legacy will always be there, and future children will always enjoy it."

People could donate through her Facebook page or contact her via the Clinton Crossroads for support.