Children at the Community School for Creative Education in Oakland saw their ideal play space designs become reality on Saturday, August 18. In just six hours, the “my dream playground” posters the kids had drawn were transformed into a creative, colorful play environment.
Teams of volunteers assembled a steel and plastic playground structure with a twisted slide, monkey bars and lots of components for climbing and exploring. Some built a stage for plays and puppet shows, while others constructed a chicken coop, picnic tables for lunchtime and wooden easels for art classes. The artistic volunteers painted a colorful mural depicting children playing in a world filled with rainbows, music, balloons and flowers. They also painted game grids on the blacktop and decorative tiles for the fence surrounding the schoolyard.
It was an inspiring day of service for the nearly 300 volunteers, including JetBlue Airways crewmembers and customers, parents and children from the public school, organizers from KaBOOM! and community residents who all joined forces to build the new playground and make significant improvements to the school’s environment. Cheers rose from the volunteers as the children cut the string “ribbon” for their new play space!
This was the 15th playground build KaBOOM! and their national partner JetBlue have completed together. JetBlue Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Icema Gibbs says, “When the airline was looking for organizations to partner with, we were looking for those who could provide volunteer opportunities for our crewmembers and customers, and have a lasting impact in the communities JetBlue serves. We also wanted to team up with a nonprofit with similar brand values – JetBlue and KaBOOM! align on fun, passion and safety.”
Matthew Hobbie of Oakland, parent of two of the school’s students, Penelope and Peter Hobbie, served as team leader for the playground’s chicken coop. He summed up comments echoed by many of the parents at the build. “When the school first decided to move into this building, not having an outdoor space to play was a concern. When all of these projects are done, it’s going to improve the school by 100%. This build is doubling the learning environment, and will give the children a safe place to play.
Hobbie added, “JetBlue’s participation in this project has been fantastic! The nature of this being a public school and also in this area of Oakland, they just don’t have the money. They could never have done this without JetBlue. It says a lot about them that they donate money and have their pilots, administrators and customers coming out for the build.”
Kay Hawes flew up from Los Angeles to volunteer on the build with her daughter Nishone Weymout of Alameda, Calif. Hawes said she has been working with kids her whole life, knows the Oakland area and how much the community needed this playground.
Elated by the activities surrounding her, Hawes exclaimed, “It’s a fabulous thing that JetBlue would come in and do this. Our children are our future. It doesn’t matter where you live. JetBlue asked for help (via email to their TrueBlue members) and I’m happy to be here helping. I am happy to see a company that I’ve had a really good experience with give back.”
Community School for Creative Education Founder Dr. Ida Oberman said, “We are thrilled that the children of Community School and our neighborhood now have the opportunity to enjoy recreation and play in a healthy, safe and fun environment. The playground fulfills an important aspect of our school mission, which is to provide children with opportunities for play and creativity. We are eternally grateful to KaBOOM! and JetBlue.
For the Oakland build, KaBOOM! Project Manager Kristin Karcsh and her team provided instructions and support. DJs Jose Ruiz of KPFA-FM and Scott Manley provided upbeat music and volunteers enjoyed good food and well-organized activities such as arts and crafts for the children who had come with their parents.
JetBlue customers selected the San Francisco Bay Area as the location for this build through voting on the airline’s Facebook page. KaBOOM! then worked to find the right partner in the area, the Community School for Creative Education. As on their first 14 builds, JetBlue encouraged their crewmembers to come out and have fun while doing good for their community. Dozens of crewmembers participated in the Oakland build, coming from cities across California, and as far as New Orleans, Louisiana and White Plains, New York.
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to saving play for America’s children by creating great playspaces through the participation of communities. Since 1996, the organization has facilitated the hands-on construction of over 2,100 playgrounds.
The Community School for Creative Education, which opened in 2011 in space shared with another public school, partners with families and the community to provide a rigorous college-prep program. At this charter school, learning is integrated into a culturally rich, arts-infused, personalized curriculum inspired by Waldorf education to promote equity and prepare culturally competent, well-rounded, lifelong learners. Picture children who learn to knit, bake bread, and sing in Mandarin and Spanish at age seven or eight, while learning to read above grade level! For the fall semester, the school has moved into its own quarters. This diverse group of Oakland’s children now has both a campus and a playground to call their own.
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