The safe, all-ability playground equipment at Missouri Southern State University’s Lion Cub Academy could soon get a new addition thanks to a fundraising effort a local community organization decided to take for a spin.

So far, nearly $5,000 has been raised toward the $15,000 needed to purchase an OmniSpin Spinner for the LCA’s outdoor classroom. The merry-go-round is designed to be wheelchair and walker accessible.

“It’s something we’ve needed on the playground,” says Nikki Tappana, director of the Lion Cub Academy. “We’ve had a spot reserved for it.”

In the spring of 2017, the former Child Development Center moved from Taylor Education Building to its new location across Newman Road. The center previously provided care to children of students, faculty, staff and alumni. The increased space has allowed members of the community to enroll their children.

“We’re open to the public, and this playground equipment is great for all the children in the community,” says Tappana.

She recently gave a tour of the center to members of Leadership Joplin, who were on a tour to learn about the importance of offering a positive quality of life to residents.

Cody Chaffin, a member of the current Leadership Joplin class, says he was moved to launch a fundraiser toward the purchase of the OmniSpin Spinner.

“Nikki gave us a tour and talked about the need to purchase it,” Chaffin says. “When I thought on it, the purpose of Leadership Joplin is not only to become more aware of our community, but to increase that awareness.

“I thought it was a good idea to challenge myself and others in the Class of 2018 to embrace the spirit of community and see what we could do.”

Members of Leadership Joplin held a Phon-A-Thon on June 7, calling on their personal and professional networks to donate funds toward the purchase of the new equipment. Chaffin, a production manager at EaglePicher Technologies, says he intends to see the project through to completion.

“We made a good start, but my efforts aren’t stopping,” he says.

The Lion Cub Academy is serving 80 children, ages 1 to 5, this summer. Tappana says fall enrollment is strong, with only a few spots left open for younger children.

To donate to the OmniSpinner project, visit