In early November, more than 200 volunteers came together to help build a KaBOOM! playground for The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta: Bellwood Unit. LexisNexis™ Risk Solutions employees, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the downtown Atlanta community were among the builders.
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to saving play. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation. For the past 15 years, KaBOOM! has been fighting to ensure that there is a safe place to play within walking distance of every child.
The Salvation Army Bellwood Boys & Girls Club has been making a difference in the lives of Atlanta youth since 1928. Although the club has a gym, numerous meeting and activity rooms, and even an indoor swimming pool, it was missing a place to play outdoors.
“For the past 15 years, there has been a void in our community without having an adequate playground,” explains Charlie Smith, Unit Director of The Salvation Army Bellwood Boys & Girls Club. “The closest playground is about four miles from our location.”
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta: Bellwood Unit serves over 900 low-income and at-risk youth in metro Atlanta. Their purpose is to provide youth development services and to promote the health, physical, social, educational, vocational and character development of local boys and girls.
“Our Clubs are dedicated to ensuring that our community’s disadvantaged youngsters have greater access to quality programs and services that will enhance their lives and shape their futures,” explained Major Marshall Gesner, The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Area Commander.
For each playground project, KaBOOM! works with a Funding Partner to identify and support a Community Partner in the market of their choice. This particular project was funded by LexisNexis™ Risk Solutions who contributed both a financial gift as well as employee volunteers who were responsible for completing the playground build in just one day.
“Once LexisNexis™ committed to building a playground in the metro Atlanta area, we scoured the community looking for a site that served a large number of children and did not have an adequate playground. After contacting The Salvation Army Bellwood Boys & Girls Club who only had old, out-dated equipment, we decided that they were a perfect match,” explained Jennifer Perritte, KaBOOM! Project Manager.
Months before the actual playground build; club members had the privilege to design their dream playground from start to finish and on November 8, 2011 their dream became reality. “The Design Day was particularly inspiring because it allowed the children and parents to participate in the process of creating a space unique to their needs,” explained Sarah Clem, Volunteer Coordinator for The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Area Command.
In approximately eight hours, 230 volunteers built an entire playground including; eight benches, eight picnic tables, 64 murals, a concrete accessible pathway, a double shade structure, and a bulletin board.
“It was an honor and a pleasure for all of us from LexisNexis to work on building this playground together, because the Salvation Army Bellwood Boys & Girls Club provides an invaluable resource to local children,” explained James M. Peck, CEO of LexisNexis™ Risk Solutions.
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta strive to provide children with the things they need the most, including a safe place to learn and play. Their programs were created to ensure that at-risk, predominately low-income youth develop carry-over skills and attitudes that enable them to succeed in school, in their communities, at home and in the future.
I have been a member of the Bellwood Boys & Girls Club for 10 years so this playground is more than just a place to play, it is a back drop of new friendships and the landscape of laughs for today and many years to come,” said Chantil Coleman, 17-year-old Bellwood Boys & Girls Club member.
Take a look at photos here—–> http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=109615