WASHINGTON – Building a playground in a day may not seem easy,but Saturday more than 500 people proved it could be done.
In six hours,volunteers built a playground and outdoor classroom space at the Hyde Leadership Public Charter School in Northeast Washington.
“This is an opportunity to be outside and to feel like you’re contributing back to the D.C. community. It’s part of a nation-wide effort to promote volunteerism,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack,who participated with three other Cabinet secretaries. “Volunteerism is what really has built this country. It’s an ethic we have in this country that is strong.”
Adult volunteers worked to build slides,crawl tubes and a rock climbing wall while children painted murals or made tile mosaics to decorate the new space.
The playground was the 13th of 14 playgrounds that nonprofit KaBOOM plans to build this year,funded in part by a $1.48 million grant by the Knight Foundation. KaBOOM works to create play spaces with the ultimate goal of every child in America having a place to play within walking distance.
Communities have to raise at least $7,500 to show a commitment to support and maintain the playground.
“KaBOOM has built over 1,800 playgrounds throughout the country,and they’re one of the best at doing it,so we’re really happy to be here.” said Patrick Corvington,CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service,which oversees the AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps volunteers served as build captains,organizing the volunteers for the day’s projects.
The playground will provide outdoor play and classroom space at Hyde’s new location,which is undergoing renovation and is set to open Dec. 17. Hyde is a pre-K to 12th grade school that focuses on character development and academic rigor.
“We started officially meeting eight or nine weeks ago,and it’s been eight or nine weeks of meetings and gathering and planning and organizing,” said Tal Bayer,Hyde’s dean of students. “And it all sort of came to culmination this week with the site-prep build days over the last three days.”
The playground project was part of Make A Difference Day,created by USA Weekend magazine.
Joining Vilsack were Transportation Secretary Ray H. LaHood,Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
“We think every single school should have a cafeteria,we think every single school should have a library,should have a computer lab,every single school should have a playground like this,” Duncan said.