Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Joplin KaBOOM Playground Build

Proposed playground design

What if I told you that you have an opportunity to work alongside former Kansas City Chiefs players, cheerleaders, and organization staff to help build a playground for Joplin kids – would you be interested?  Well, guess what?  Today is your lucky day:  on August 23, 2012, the Chiefs and KaBOOM, a national non-profit dedicated to saving play for America’s children, are joining forces to build a new playground at the Joplin Schools’ Roi S. Wood campus, located at 15th and Connecticut, and they need YOUR help in order to get the new playground built.

 Over the past fifteen years KaBOOM has helped communities build more than 2,000 playgrounds, providing play spaces for more than 5.5 million children.  KaBOOM partners with local communities and organizations to help construct innovative and engaging playgrounds in areas lacking adequate play space for children.  One of the key elements in each playground build is the utilization of local volunteers to assist KaBOOM officials with the build.  The new Joplin playground will require 200 volunteers total, 50 of whom are coming down from Kansas City with the Chiefs organization.  Local organizers are still seeking 150 volunteers.
KC Wolf meets with Aidan Rakes during KaBOOM planning meeting

Erin Rakes, a friend of mine who also volunteered with the Vote Hope committee that helped raise support for the recent school bond issue, recently met with me about the upcoming KaBOOM project.  Back in June, Erin and her kids – along with several other families from the McKinley and Eastmorland neighborhoods – attended a meeting led by KaBOOM officials and representatives for the Chiefs.  During the meeting, while parents learned about the build process and the benefits of having neighborhood play spaces, children visited with KC Wolf and Chiefs cheerleaders and then were encouraged to draw their dream playground. 

Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader and Lily Rakes
“KaBOOM is all about communities coming together to play and create good memories,” says Jason Cravens, Director of Instructional Services for Joplin R-8 and facilitator of the upcoming build.  “Originally we looked at using Emerson (elementary) for the build site, but after careful consideration decided on the Roi S. Wood campus because the surrounding neighborhood population needed a playground,” Cravens explains.  Since residents of the area typically attend either Eastmorland or McKinley elementary schools, families from these schools are encouraged to help with the build.  However, everyone in the Joplin area is invited to help out.

After the May 2011 tornado, KaBOOM reached out to Joplin school officials in an effort to help restore some of the play spaces that were destroyed in the storm.  Cravens says the site at the former administration building, which now houses the Beacon Program for area school districts, was an ideal spot for the new playground.  The Kansas City Chiefs organization was contacted as a potential funding partner for the project.  In addition to the promised funding for the project, the Chiefs also agreed to transport volunteers from the Kansas City area who will assist with the labor for the build.  Local builder Brandon Hankins is providing tools and additional labor for the project.  Representatives from Art Feeds will provide children’s activities throughout the day while parents and other volunteers work to construct the new playground.  Ribbon cutting ceremonies for the completed playground are slated for 2:30 p.m. the day of the build.

This project provides a unique opportunity for members of the community to work together in an effort to help promote the well-being of area kids.  Plus, you never know – you might just get lucky and run into your favorite former Kansas City Chiefs player!

If you are interested in volunteering with the Joplin/KaBOOM playground build, please contact Alisha Brigance, volunteer coordinator at Dualxs2(at)Yahoo(dot)com. 

I look forward to seeing you at the build!

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