“This is exactly what we’ve needed isn’t it honey?”
A mother commented as she knelt down to her toddler who was focused on a playground being built just a few feet away.
In May of 2011 after the storm passed, the wind settled, and the dust cleared the community of Joplin discovered the destruction the EF5 tornado had brought to their town. Since that day the Hunt family and the Chiefs organization have committed to long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts in Joplin. Just as the mother had said, this is exactly what the community needed.
On Thursday the Chiefs organization partnered with KaBOOM! and the Joplin School District to build a playground at the Beacon Alternative School.
“We’re back again putting up a playground in one day,” Chuck Castellano, Kansas City Chiefs Community Relations Manager said.
“As we continue the course there are going to be other activities we will be involved in because it really is a part of our core to make sure that we don’t forget Joplin."
This is the fifth time the Chiefs have teamed up with volunteers to help bring normalcy back to Joplin. Although the Chiefs have worked with KaBOOM! on other projects, this was the organizations first time in Joplin. Evan Myantt, manager of KaBOOM! has high expectations for the playground.
“This is our sixth playground with the Chiefs and we’re excited for this one to top the other five. We really have had great folks and great work planning for this project and we have a lot of dedicated folks (here).”
The children created their own blueprints for the playground, which included plans for igloos, waterfalls, or even rocket ships. After taking these big plans into careful consideration the design was created and building began early Thursday morning.
Just over 200 volunteers showed up to help with the construction. After a long day of work not only was the playground in place but there were also four benches, four shade structures, four picnic tables, four raised planters, and a few painted benches as well. Overall, close to five tons of concrete was set, 120 cubic yards of mulch was moved, a 30-foot walkway was created, and a U.S. map was painted in the parking lot.
Chiefs Ambassadors were also involved in the project.
“We feel like its important because the community supported us and we feel like its time for us to support the community,” Anthony Davis said.
The project, funded by the Chiefs, including donations received from the Kansas City community and an NFL Fitness Zone Grant, will serve Beacon School students, as well as children in the surrounding neighborhoods. Also, in keeping with the NFL’s Play 60 initiative of children getting at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, this playground will encourage children to remain active at school and year-round.
“This (playground) gives the Beacon Alternative School and the kids in the surrounding neighborhoods who lost their park, now have an area to come to” Larry Warren said, who is the vice chairman of the board for the Joplin area chamber of commerce.
When the project was completed Thursday afternoon it was easy to see the excitement and joy in the eyes of the children.
It was exactly what Joplin needed.