East Palo Alto community comes together to build playground

Hundreds of volunteers took a day off work to build a new playground designed by the community in East Palo Alto Thursday.
October 24, 2013 7:57:01 PM PDT
Hundreds of volunteers took a day off work to build a new playground at Cesar Chavez Academy Thursday. It was designed by the community

Cultivating teamwork is a part of Silicon Valley life. Volunteers from SAP and Adobe came to Cesar Chavez Academy with a tall order -- build a playground in six hours.

"This will change their lives," Roger Quinlan, SAP Consulting Senior VP, said. "These kids have to walk today 20 minutes to another playground and that's 20 minutes of instructional time they don't get, and we're going to change their day as a result of this playground."

Parents and school leaders applied two years ago to Kaboom, a non-profit group that has helped 2,500 schools across the country to create quality playgrounds to round out kids' education. The community raised $8,500 toward the project, and offered input as to what kind of equipment would be best for their children.

Cornell Garland is the parent of a 6-year-old student.

"Been coming to meetings and talking about it, what to pick out for the playground," he said. "Everybody makes decisions. We all voted what's going to be on the playground, what's best for the kids."

Two licensed playground contractors helped to supervise the work teams. It helped that volunteers at Adobe and SAP have collaborated on six previous playground projects.

"Playgrounds are designed for the gross motor skills and development of those motor skills and to have an actual playground that's going to meet the needs of the kids is phenomenal; we're so excited," Cesar Chavez Academy Principal Amika Guillaume said.

Besides the adrenalin rush from meeting a tight deadline, volunteers also get the satisfaction of improving the lives of East Palo Alto students.

"When you finish and you look back and see the playground completed, it's an awesome feeling, and then see the kids coming out and saying thank you," Adobe product manager Juan Carlos Colosso said.

The playground is done, but the kids will have to wait until Monday for the concrete to dry.


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