What began as an art project at the innovative Freeman Playground has now become a children's book featuring “Beasts of Helena.” This hardback, 20-page, full-color book documents the Helena art students ages 7-13 as they paint the “Beasts of Helena” mural at Freeman Playground.

What began as an art project at the innovative Freeman Playground has now become a children’s book featuring “Beasts of Helena.” This hardback, 20-page, full-color book documents the Helena art students ages 7-13 as they paint the “Beasts of Helena” mural at Freeman Playground.

Freeman Playground is a place of fun and laughter in downtown Helena, dedicated to Freeman Staley, son of Will and Misti Staley, and all of the children of Phillips County who have left this earth too soon. Freeman Playground is at the corner of Beech and Market streets in historic downtown Helena.

Freeman Ellis Staley was born April 25, 2015. He spent 3 1/2 months in the NICU at Arkansas Children's Hospital. His parents were proud to bring him home to Helena in August 2015. After 5 weeks at home, his lungs got sick again and he had to go back to the PICU at ACH.

It was another five months in the hospital before Freeman lost his battle with pulmonary hypertension on Feb. 15, 2016. In Freeman's short time on earth, he touched the lives of so many people around him. He was an inspiration of strength and courage.

Misti Staley stated, "It’s our hope that children will be inspired to visit Freeman Playground and see their 8x8 storybook as the original mural that is much, much larger than they are. Plus, families will get to enjoy all the additional fun outdoor activities in Helena. Just think, families might visit Helena all because of a bedtime story."

“Beasts of Helena” provides a wonderful literacy piece to Freeman Playground and now you can share this 280-foot long piece of art with all of the children in your life this holiday season. Books have already been sold to people from 20 states and three foreign countries.

“Beasts of Helena" children's books are for sale at Handworks, 227 Cherry St. Books can also be ordered by credit card through the Freeman Playground Facebook page. Checks are also accepted. Send to: Freeman Foundation, PO Box 342, Helena, AR 72342. All proceeds benefit Freeman Playground.