16:11 PM

Bellevue University Recognizes Playground Founder With 2022 Ethical Leadership Award


Debra Parsow, a local citizen who founded and continues to care for a playground at Omaha's Elmwood Park at 60th and Pacific street, has been named the recipient of the Ethical Leadership and Service Award by Bellevue University’s Ethical Insights Committee.

Parsow initially created the playground in 2016, in dedication of her late husband, Steven S. Parsow. The playground hosts a multitude of toys for children to engage with while they spend time at the popular midtown park. The goal of the playground is to serve as a fun, memorable space for children and other family members to enjoy. Parsow continues to replenish the supply of toys for the playground, and replace broken and stolen toys. She also cleans the playground every weekend and stocks the area with chalk for children to use to create art on park sidewalks. 

Parsow described the playground as having a simple but important focus. “It's just about play,” said Parsow, who is a founding member of the Omaha Parks Foundation board and currently serves as the board president. "Children are climbing on stuff, swinging. There's no competitiveness. It's just open, fun play.” 

All of Parsow's efforts are independent of the city Parks Department. “Her efforts show how one person can make a positive contribution that benefits many,” said Bellevue University President Mary Hawkins when presenting Parsow with the award. 

Ethical Insights is a faculty-driven initiative which fosters the teaching and learning of ethics across the colleges at Bellevue University. The ethics award is given to a community member or student for outstanding leadership in ethics as demonstrated by professional and community service.

Previous winners of the Ethical Leadership and Service Award include:

2021 - JR Richardson

2020 — Beth Riley

2019 — Katherine (KC) Noble

2018 — Pete Heineman

2017 — Gina Ponce

2016 — Mike Livergood

2015 — Dr. Jon Kayne

2014 — Rabbi Pesach Lerner

2013 – Frank Kumar

2012 – Dr. Robert Saniuk

2011 – Prof. Del Stites