Greensboro - The national KaBoom organization has partnered with Greensboro city officials and Blue Cross Blue Shield to build, in only six hours, a playground in the Glenwood neighborhood. Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins launched construction efforts Friday morning at 8:30, when a volunteer force of 100 people from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina turned out to construct the project at Maywood Park (2009 Maywood Street).
Kaboom's professed mission since 1996, according to organization project manager Constantino ("Chappy") Rago and the organization's website, is to provide a playground within walking distance of every child in America.
According to Greensboro City Council member T. Diane Bellamy-Small, whose district encompasses the Glenwood neighborhood, said none of the other playgrounds in this area are pedestrian-accessible. Julius Burch, an elementary school student who lives in the neighborhood and is helping with volunteer efforts, said he is excited he will be able to walk to a nearby playground.
KaBoom has said building playgrounds can deter potential gang activities in certain areas. The organization also said approximately 96 percent of pediatricians said they believe unstructured play helps build children's social skills and confidence, as well as encourages physical activity.
Rago said most of the materials for what normally would be an estimated $100,000 project (according to Chris Wilson, Director of Greensboro Parks & Recreation) are donated. The rest of the costs are covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the project's funding partner. Bellamy-Small said the Greensboro City Council will maintain the park's upkeep.
Though the playground is expected to be completed by 2:30 p.m., project officials said children cannot play on it until at least Monday, as concrete takes three days to dry (weather permitting).
The playground is the fifth built by KaBoom and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and one of more than 150 playgrounds KaBoom will attempt to build across the country in 2013.