Edit [12/26/08]: See these photos and more at my Flickr page.
If you haven’t heard of the fine folks at KaBOOM!, they travel the country building playgrounds for neighborhoods that need them. Their goal: a place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Friday and Saturday, I helped prepare and lead the construction of a shade structure as part of a KaBOOM! build at the Isiah Fredericks Community Center in North Gulfport. The shade structure was designed by Jessie Zenor and built by Hands On and the North Gulfport Community Land Trust; it incorporated hundreds of tiles decorated by children from across the Gulf Coast school system.
- Total number of KaBOOM playgrounds as of Saturday: 1,500
- Number of tiles decorated by kids in Gulf Coast schools: 620
- Number of total volunteers: 400+
- Number of Air Force volunteers: 225
- KaBOOM playgrounds on the Gulf Coast since Katrina: 107
- Time we finished prep work on Friday night: 11:30
- New picnic tables: 4
- Shade structures built: 1
See below for more!
Friday afternoon, I got a message from Caitlin at Hands On saying they needed help getting the structure ready for the KaBOOM! day. We ended up staying there until 11:30 at night, and good thing we did, because Saturday morning we had eager volunteers ready to begin gluing tiles to the structure. (Most of the construction had to happen beforehand because KaBOOM doesn’t allow power tools on build days. So ignore the gentleman using the power drill).
AmeriCorps*NCCC was there as well:
A few of the tiles that the kids made (ages 6-18 or so):
Got to have one representing Hands On:
Detail of one of the tile panels; note the crazily-mustachioed George Ohr.
Some of the 200+ Air Force volunteers from Keesler, testing the structural integrity of the bench (result: Pass).
Ingrid Hill, left foreground, is an Americorps member at Hands On and the person responsible for organizing the painting and firing of somewhere upwards of 6,000 tiles in various Gulf Coast schools. Caitlin Brooking, right, is the acting executive director of Hands On, my boss, and wearer of fine hats.
Kendall, Shannon, and Kat:
Anne from the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum (and my former roommate), Caitlin, and Dave, a great guy who volunteered to lead the construction of the shade structure.
The hundreds of volunteers begin to gather for the closing speech of the KaBOOM! day.
Unity! With the new playground behind them.