A New Playground For Megion

12th July 2007

Alexander Kuzmin and top model, Natalia Vodianova began the realisation of a children's playground in the city of Megion. In 2005 Natalia Vodianova set up "The Naked Heart Foundation" in order to construct and maintain playgrounds across Russia. The first playground was opened in Nizhny Novgorod, the supermodel's home town, with great success. Speaking about the foundation Natalia said "Our purpose is to provide children with a friendly playing environment, where they can express themselves, communicate with other children and learn to live and be healthy in a safe place".

Alexander Kuzmin's initial idea of building a playground in Megion was transformed into the huge project of great regional and national value today after his negotiations with Natalia. From this original idea many more playgrounds and game complexes across the Tyumen area are being planned which will entirely transform the lives of hundreds of children. These projects will be accompanied by facilities for disabled children and will also be manned by child minders so that parents can have a break in adjoining shops and cafes.

These playgrounds and games complexes, built with the help and support of the Naked Heart Foundation, will be unique: traditional sandpits, swings and slides will be built into the framework of a special design, such as the ship that will be seen in Megion. "This year there will be seven such play areas opened in Megion" Alexander Kuzmin notes, "the first of which will be opened and presented to the city by Natalia Vodianova herself on 20th July".

13th July 2007

see photo 13.07.2007..

Installation has been begun just seven days before Natalia Vodianova's arrival to Megion for the official opening. The play area is to be divided into different zones for younger children, disabled children and teenagers. These zones will be provided with checkpoints, through which no adult unaccompanied by a child will be able to enter. The entire playground will also have 24 hour security every day of the year. The location of the playground is in the city centre on a former waste ground near a small shopping centre.

16th July 2007




Four days prior to the opening of the playground in Megion, the city is waiting in anticipation for Natalia Vodianova to arrive from London. The playground is on schedule and the tall ship structure, around which many of the games are based, is nearly finished. Alongside the ship there is a pyramid of ropes where children will be able to test their strength and agility by seeing if they can reach the top, and next to the structure is a zip-wire for children to transform themselves into Tarzan for a moment or two as they traverse from end to end at high speed.

18th July 2007

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The playground's opening is looming ever closer and the entertainment that will be put on for the children on the opening day, 20th July, has now been finalized. There will be a demonstration of all the playground games in action, followed by a sketch by children's entertainment group called "The Happy Childhood" and, of course, the official opening by Natalia Vodianova.

As mentioned above, the playground incorporates all manner of activities for children of all ages and abilities, there will be swings, sandpits, slides and a pyramid amongst many other attractions.

19th July 2007

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Natalia Vodianova and Lord Justin Portman have arrived in Megion.

The celebrity couple have arrived after invitation from Alexander Kuzmin and will tomorrow open the playground that has been supported and funded by the Naked Heart Foundation. Natalia has expressed her delight at the city and gratification that the project is a success. Each playground really does provide thousands of children with a safe space to have fun and improve their health and lives by exercise and communication with their peers.

Today Natalia Vodianova and Justin Portman are enjoying a cultural programme which will show off the delights of the Yugra region, before the big opening tomorrow.

20th July 2007

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"Natalia, is it really you?! I don't believe it!" Such was the exclamation from one young mother upon meeting the supermodel. Such doubts are understandable as this unreal event has finally unfolded before the incredulous people of Megion.

The mayor of Megion, Alexander Kuzmin, had the idea of building a children's playground in the city when he was on the plane and happened to read an article about Natalia Vodianova's Naked Heart Foundation. After negotiations this idea became a reality and the project is now one that is unique in the Tyumen region.

After arriving on the 18th July and staying at a hotel in Nizhnevartovsk, Natalia and Justin visited a Khanti traditional settlement near to the city. Both Russian and Brit alike have been impressed by their first visit to Siberia and experiences of the traditional northern native's way of life. An elder of the Siberian native people called Paul Janchevich Ajvaseda led a sacrifical ceremony at which hundreds of people arrived at the Temple in Megion in anticipation of a quite extraordinary event.

Natalia's presence in the city has caused a storm of emotions as the people watch Natalia Vodianova, the top supermodel, with great pride:

"Thank you for your smiles, I am very glad that I have been able to visit your city and give such a gift to your children. The day before yesterday we were lucky enough to open another playground in Leninsk-Kuznetsk and can now announce that the Naked Heart Foundation has officially opened four playgrounds. I would like to thank the diligence and initiative of your mayor Alexander Kuzmin, he persuaded me that a playground was necessary in Megion for children to be able to play in a safe environment and now I see that he was right."

In turn, Mr Kuzmin gave Natalia Vodianova the following address:

"That we have managed to build a playground such as this in such a short time and that Natalia is here among us is a miracle. Miracles such as this don't just happen by themselves they need people such as Natalia to think and create them, what has happened here is unbelievable. All this is for our children, that their childhood may be bright and joyful. It is wonderful that there are people such as Natalia in our country today who are prepared to do everything they can to aid the progress of the next generation."

The mayor also thanked everyone who has helped with this project and said that he hopes by the end of the year there will be six more playgrounds in Megion.

After a dramatic moment when Natalia Vodianova cut the red tape and officially opened the playground, the children rushed through the gates and attacked the various activities with great enthusiasm. Adults were able to watch as children climbed a top of the great ship, pretending they were captains of the sea, scrambled to the highest point of the rope pyramid, and zipped down the zip wire like Tarzan.

The total cost of the playground was $230,000US for equipment and $100,000US in installation costs. After the opening of the playground there was a press conference for the mayor and model which was attended by press and media agencies throughout Russia.

A huge thank you and apologies go to the workers who have had to work round the clock in order to finish in time for the big day, they have been magnificent and their efforts are greatly appreciated.

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Further Links:

The Naked Heart Foundation

The opening of the 3rd and 4th playgrounds in Leninsk-Kuznetsk and Megion

News featuring the playground opening on russiatoday.ru (http://www.admmegion.ru/news/50333, http://russiatoday.ru/features/news/11273/video)