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Successful KaBOOM! Playground Build Brings Joy to Children at Cedar Heights

After an agonizing 72-hour wait to allow paint to dry and concrete foundations to set, the kids at Cedar Heights were finally able to run, jump, climb, swing, and break-in their newly-built playground this week.

On Friday, April 4, 2014, CPDC staff, board members, and residents joined with KaBOOM!, the Redskins Charitable Foundation, and Clark Construction Group to build the new playground at our Cedar Heights community in Southeast D.C. Over 200 volunteers participated in Friday’s Build Day, which was the culmination of many months of dedicated planning and preparation by the community and project partners.

Preparations for the Cedar Heights KaBOOM! Playground Build kicked off in January with a Community Design Day. Staff and family members listened as the youth described and drew their visions for a place where they could safely play, explore, imagine, and even perform. The “dream playground” the community envisioned has finally come to fruition. The new playground features a small outdoor stage, classroom set-up, and climbing wall, in addition to traditional features such as swings, monkey bars, and a spiral slide. The Cedar Heights playground also includes a picnic area, two shade trellises and park benches, and several other play components for kids to jump on, “ride,” and enjoy.

The week of the build began with two prep days, during which nearly 50 volunteers worked to prepare the site and materials for the Build Day. On the morning of Build Day, staff and volunteers began arriving before sun up. At 7:30 a.m., Brittany Clark, a dance instructor and resident from CPDC’s Mayfair Mansions community, led a warm-up session to get the crowd of volunteers moving and excited before the work began. For the next six hours, volunteers worked in teams to accomplish everything from assembling the swing set to mixing cement. Other teams worked slowly but surely to reduce a double peaked mountain of mulch to a mere ant hill by the end of the day. The mulch was shoveled into wheelbarrows and onto tarps and carried to the playground where it was leveled to create the playground “floor.”

Kareem David, who goes by the name of DJ Movado, kept everyone energized with up-beat music throughout the day and occasionally inspired volunteers to take a work break to dance the “Wobble” and “Cupid Shuffle.” Additionally, residents and volunteers were excited to work side-by-side with Redskins alumni and current player Niles Paul.

Youth under the age of 14 gathered with CPDC staff in the Cedar Heights Community Center where they created a “ribbon” made of hand-shaped paper cut-outs. Their hand-made ribbon was used at the official Ribbon Cutting ceremony on Friday afternoon, which was attended by the Redskins’ Dan Snyder and other Redskins officials.

At the end of Build Day, as staff fenced off the playground and wrapped caution tape around the equipment to dry and settle, several kids ran around the perimeter asking “When can we play on it?”

Despite walking away dirty and exhausted, residents, the project partners, and amazing teams of volunteers were proud to be part of the successful KaBOOM! Playground Build and part of ensuring that #playmatters. But for the kids, the new playground brought joy to Cedar Heights.

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