The following is a first-person account of our recent hc1 Communities outreach event.
Wearing my Mission Continues attire, I arrived early to the KIPP School to find the hc1 team and get signed in for the build. This Kaboom Playgound build was sponsored by The Mission Continues as well as Delta Airlines, the headlining sponsor of the event. This was a truly emotional event, since most of the children who attend this school have never had a playground to play on before.
Looking around the school, there was a large empty field. The field was bare except for the newly tarped area that would soon house the new playground and tents with tables for lunch service and a small blacktop area. It wasn’t until later I was told that the field was recently cleaned up in order to make room for the playground. It was previously covered in trash, old barrels and wood planks.
At 9am, everyone gathered on the blacktop area to be broken into groups and tasks for the day. Our team was broken apart and assigned different tasks. We had 6 hours to assemble and install the playground, picnic tables, flower planters, and pergolas, and then mulch the entire area. I was assigned mulch duty.
Luckily the holes for the playground equipment had already been dug. We broke into our respected groups and began building. I was on mulch duty with a few of my hc1 colleagues. Surprisingly, as people assembled the playground equipment we were told to haul mulch to the area and stack around the perimeter of the playground area. This made it a little more difficult when installing the equipment as people needed to walk over mountains for mulch, but it seemed like the supervisors had a plan. We had 6 hours to get this build done and at least 200 volunteers.
The day was progressing nicely. We had enough volunteers on mulch duty that we were done pretty fast. It was really hot out and being on top of a mountain of mulch felt like an inferno. There were people walking around delivering water to everyone, which helped. After lunch we picked up where we left off. By this point, the mulch mountain was more of a hill and the picnic tables were complete. The playground equipment was assembled and in a short while would be ready to install.
Three of us hc1 team members moved over to the concrete area to help start mixing concrete. This area was nice as a large tree shaded it and there was a hose spraying everyone. Some kids from the school were on the other side of the tree playing games. I overheard a conversation that because the kids had no playground, the teacher would play games with them at recess. As I was mixing concrete I could see the equipment being installed. It looked awesome and brightly colored.
There was a tire swing in the corner. The large jungle gym in the middle that had 3 orange slides side by side, another orange slide on the opposite end, a gray rock-climbing wall, lime green monkey bars and a bridge connecting everything. On the other side of the large jungle gym was a large lime green monkey bar dome next to funnel ball.
At the end of the day, it didn’t matter how hot it was, how long you worked, or what task you were assigned - the only thing that mattered was we gave children something they never had before – a true playground.