On Saturday, more than 200 volunteers from across Bedford-Stuyvesant and beyond came together to build a playground from scratch for the elementary school children of 800 Gates Avenue.
The project was organized by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit that helps build innovated and safe playgrounds for America's children.
The young students of the Gates Avenue school, between Stuyvesant and Malcolm X Boulevard, belong to , , .
All year, both the district and charter schools have engaged their students in various art projects that encouraged them to think about the design of their own playground, keeping both fun and safety in mind. With the help and direction of KaBOOM! and the handiwork of an enthusiastic team of volunteers – some who had never picked up a hammer in their life – on Saturday, a playground that for years existed in only in the minds and imagination of the young students at 800 Gates Avenue finally became a reality.
Prior to Saturday, the schools’ playground looked not unlike most other playgrounds in New York City: a sprawling courtyard of cement, void of color, excitement and fun. Now, the children will have equipment to run and jump over; places to bounce through and swing around— a playing field to stretch their imaginations.
A basketball court was set erected in one corner, and a small track was drawn in the middle of the field. The children painted colorful murals on the handball courts. Tables, benches, a small garden and flower beds were set up to beautify the atmosphere.
The volunteers ate food donated by , , Dunkin Doughnuts and a few local supermarkets. Even the dean of students and a fourth-grade teacher chipped in and took turns working as DJs for the day.
“This has been an effort that we dreamed about four years ago when we first opened with 140 kindergarteners and first-grade students,” said Andrea Zayas, principal and co-founder of La Cima Charter School. “Hundreds of volunteers came out to make this happen today. From our amazing parents, to our local community organizations, it’s really amazing to see it all coming together.”