We Built A Playground Along With Kaboom, Kool Aid And Rev Run!NEWS | Nirasha Jaganath | April 3, 2010 at 8:52 pm
It was exactly a year ago that I did a post about Kaboom, a group that builds playgrounds all over the country, so I was (pleasantly) surprised when I was asked to join Kaboom and Kool Aid to build a new playground in Inglewood, California. As much as media events are fun I was worried about having to look at other people working to build a playground. Though I have performed several volunteer efforts from being a “Big Sister” to working in organic farms, to food banks to troubled teenagers, senior citizens, abused kids, arts etc but I had never built a playground.
I was excited to head to Los Angeles partly for a little mama getaway, but mostly for being part of something bigger than me. Looking at the itinerary it stated that we would start at 8am to build a playground and the scheduled ribbon cutting would be around 2pm. I thought that this must be a media event and no actual building because how on earth can a playground be built in so little time. The night before as we dined with the folks from Kool Aid I was shocked to learn that this would be the 28th playground that Kool Aid had sponsored, with Kaboom already having built way over a hundred.
After donning my red cute Kool Aid t-shirt (red is so my color) Beth Feldman, Kim Orlando, Jennifer James and Ciaran Blumenfeld headed off, armed with a GPS, to find our way to the work site for the playground – all sporting the same shirt. Although there were no fixtures up, the site was crammed with volunteers. The view was already heartwarming. I learned from Kaboom that the reason they did not just pitch up and build a playground was the local community would not treasure it as much and it may mean it being trashed in a few weeks. By committing by volunteering time and effort the chance of everyone taking care of it was better.
The neighborhood sent shivers down my spine. It reminded me of another lifetime of my home in Durban, South Africa where we lived with metal bars on the windows and doors – kind of like a prison we build for ourselves. There was a school right next door that actually looked as dreary as a prison from the outside. Not an ounce of color and very concrete look. The kids stood by the fence watching everyone and I am sure excited that soon this will be their hangout.
Except for a flat land everything needed to be assembled, mulch moved, concrete mixed, shrubs planted and benches painted. Our blogger group toiled with the slide and ran into a few snags with the screws (hey we are bloggers not carpenters) but we did do an amazing job with the painting of the benches. Rev Run, famous for the Run’s House on MTV a while back, and his family joined us. Although he had long been a supporter for the Kool Aid and Kaboom partnership having his entire family help was a treat to watch.
To my surprise the playground was built and though the kids would have to wait a few days for the concrete to set, I knew that very soon memories would be made here. Heck, mine were already made. Playgrounds mean a lot more than just play. To a kid especially from from a challenging neighborhood it could mean the difference to having a childhood or getting into (serious) trouble. Another amazing experience that I get to jot down in the Mommy Niri notebook. This one will be pretty difficult to forget.
Disclosure: Flights, accommodation and meals were paid for the Kaboom Kool Aid event.