As an immigrant child from Haiti, Stephanie Baptiste was separated from her mom when she was five.
She is not alone. The Northwest Miami-Dade's Pinewood area has a large Haitian community, who left loved ones behind on the island. The seven-year-old said she dreams of the day when she can walk Gratigny Plateau park, while holding her mother’s hand.
"I know I am going to see her and I can bring her to this park to play," Stephanie said. "We don't have parks in my neighborhood in Haiti."
Stephanie was born at Cap-Haitien, a city on the north coast of Haiti. She and her older brother Hans Baptiste, 9, live with their dad and have many friends and family who live near the park, 885 NW 117th St.
Ever since Stephanie moved to the neighborhood, the park has been under construction. Due to lack of funding, Miami-Dade County had not been able to develop it until The One and Only Local 10 News stepped in.
Local 10 News focused on developing a public-private partnership. A team of volunteers and donors turned the once magnet for parked cars and garbage into a fun space for children like Stephanie.
"I don't think I have ever been to a park like that," Stephanie said. "We play on the yard, but sometimes its too small."
Stephanie turned eight August 5th. The park will finally open a day after her birthday. The soon-to-be second-grader, who is a student at Lakeview Elementary, 1290 NW 115th St., said she can't wait.
"I wish my mom could be here for my birthday," Stephanie said. "But now that I know about the park party I will have something to be happy about."
SPECIAL SECTION: Complete coverage of Gratigny Plateau Park