San Jose Sharks team up to build new playground for South Bay elementary school

Dustin Dorsey Image
Saturday, October 19, 2019
Sharks team up to build new playground for South Bay elementary school
Tomas Hertl and the San Jose Sharks worked with over 200 volunteers to build a brand new playground designed by and for the students at Windmill Springs School in San Jose, Calif.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In just about six hours, hundreds of volunteers came together to bring hundreds of smiles to the faces of the Windmill Elementary kindergarten students.

A team of Bay Area organizations, including the San Jose Sharks, built an entire playground from scratch to give kids a safe and fun place to play while at school.

"The KaBOOM build process is really cool," said Katie Morgan, SAP North America head of corporate social responsibility. "We get the community involved from the very beginning. We had Windmill Springs, the Sharks Foundation and SAP working together for the past eight weeks to bring today to life. This was a blank slate. Throughout the day, we had more than 200 volunteers putting this playground together, painting on the sidewalks and really adding a lot of color and life to the school. Now, it's a brand new school yard."

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KaBoom is a non-profit organization dedicated to giving children, especially those in poverty, great places to play and enjoy their childhood.

These same children hold an important role in the playground building process as they started work eight weeks before construction even began.

"The process actually started with a design day," said Sharks foundation manager Jenne Johnson said. "We invited a lot of the kindergartners to come and imagine their playground. They did lots of drawings and told us what they wanted to see. It was a long process, but we're really excited to be here today and see it all come together."

The playground was originally meant for older children, leaving it unsafe for the younger students that currently play on it.

Windmill Springs applied for this great opportunity over a year ago and the Sharks Foundation and SAP agreed to team up to make their dreams a reality.

"To be selected meant that we could actually have a playground that was age appropriate and really focused on imaginative play along with being able to climb and use your fine and gross motor skills," said Windmill Springs School Principal Becky Roussin. "Just seeing the excitement from even before it was built with the kids knowing they were going to get a new playground that they helped design was just the best thing ever. It was the best gift we could get."

Among the volunteers were familiar faces to the San Jose Sharks organization in President John Tortora, SJ Sharkie and Tomas Hertl.

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Hertl recalls having great memories as a child playing on playgrounds such as the one built today.

When he heard there was an opportunity to help out and give back to the passionate fans that support him every day, it was an easy decision to join in.

"It's always nice to help, but especially kids," Hertl said. "They now have a beautiful playground with more fun stuff that they can enjoy. It's really nice to be part of it."

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Now, the students of Windmill Springs have a safe and fun playground that will open officially sometime in October 2019.

It was a day filled with hard work, but worth every second for the volunteers.

"We can never invest too much in our children and this is a great example of spending one day on a lot of kids and it rippling out to the whole neighborhood," Morgan said.

"What we do as an organization is try to make the community a better place and show people that if they care about the Sharks and hockey, they should also care about their community," Johnson said.

For more information on KaBoom, you can visit their website here.

To see other work the Sharks Foundation is up to, click here to visit their website.